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Rodale Manufacturing Company, Inc.

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Pennsylvania
Lehigh County
Borough of Emmaus

EPA ID# PAD981033285

15th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names

None

Current Site Status

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the cleanup of the Rodale Manufacturing site. The owner of the property agreed to complete the cleanup of hazardous substances at the 1.8-acre site located at 6th and Minor Streets in Emmaus, Lehigh County, Pa.  Under a consent decree entered on March 22, 2002 in federal court in Philadelphia with the U.S. and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), site owner Square D Company (now Schneider Electric) is carrying out the cleanup plan approved by EPA and PADEP in September 1999 Record of Decision (ROD).  An EPA five year review of the Site was completed on September 30, 2013.  The review found that the cleanup currently protects human health and the environment because the pump and treat system at the Site is functioning as designed.  It is containing the plume and is helping in the reduction of the concentrations of the Site contaminants.  Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) is working as intended, reducing the concentrations of contaminants outside the containment zone.  However the EPA review also determined that the off-gas treatment of the ground water treatment system air stripper was not functioning properly.   It appeared likely that the majority, if not all, of the TCE being removed by the air stripper from the extracted groundwater had been exiting the system, untreated, through the building exhaust stack.  Following a successful pilot study in the winter of 2013 and spring of 2014 of alternate treatment of the extracted ground water via liquid phase carbon filtration without air stripping, a permanent switch to liquid phase carbon treatment of extracted groundwater was made in September 2014.  The liquid phase carbon filtration of extracted ground water effectively removes contaminants to the required levels for discharge to the storm sewer while eliminating any off gas from the system.  Routine, periodic replacement of the carbon treatment media will be required.

Site Description

The Rodale Manufacturing site consists of approximately 1.8 acres located in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The site is surrounded by both industrial and residential areas. From the 1950s to 1975, Rodale Manufacturing manufactured wiring devices and electrical connectors. Operations were taken over by Square D Co. in 1975. Square D manufactured wiring devices and electrical connectors until 1986, when operations at the site ceased. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), site contamination was caused by the disposal of electroplating waste and rinse water into on-site wells. PADEP files indicate that the disposal of contaminated materials into these wells took place until 1967. In 1981 when Square D was in the process of installing new equipment, it uncovered a disposal well. Later, long-term employees of Rodale indicated two other wells. In 1981, wastes from the three on-site disposal wells were removed and disposed of in federally-approved hazardous waste facilities. TCE contamination, a chemical component of solvents, has been a continuous problem in the Borough of Emmaus with varying levels of TCE being detected in seven wells of the Emmaus Municipal Water Works since 1981. Borough Well No. 5 was closed in 1981 and later abandoned in 1988 due to constant TCE contamination. In 1990, air strippers were installed in three wells by the Borough. Contamination in some of the Borough wells, which can not be impacted by contamination from the site, indicates that there could be other potential sources of contamination in the area. Groundwater in on-site wells is contaminated mostly with TCE, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Public and private wells and springs within four miles of the site provide drinking water to an estimated 21,000 people. A Borough well is within one-half mile of the site.
Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this site is the responsibility of potential responsible parties, federal and state governments.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action on July 29, 1991. The site was formally added to the list October 14, 1992, making it eligible for federal cleanup.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater is contaminated with heavy metals and VOCs, primarily TCE. People could be at risk from drinking or touching contaminated ground water.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

In September 1992, EPA issued an Administrative Order of Consent (AOC) to Square D Company (now Schneider Electric) to conduct a Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study (RI/FS) at the site. As part of that Order, Square D conducted an investigation of the wells in the Borough of Emmaus and adjacent areas to evaluate the extent of contamination. Sampling results from this investigation revealed that contamination from the site had migrated offsite and that low levels of contamination were detected in some private wells. As a result, on September 30, 1994, EPA issued an AOC for a Removal Action to Square D Company to construct a pump and treat system to limit the migration of contamination from the site. The system was completed in the Summer of 1997, and is in full operation. Concurrently with the removal action, Square D conducted remedial investigation field activities throughout 1996 and 1997 which included on-site soil sampling, an aquifer test, installation of off-site monitoring wells, and sampling of all on-site and off-site monitoring wells. The results of the Remedial Investigation (RI) are included in a March 1998 report. Based on the RI findings, Square D prepared a Feasibility Study which evaluated potential remedial actions to address the Site contamination. In June 1999, EPA issued a Proposed Plan that presented three of the remedies evaluated and EPA's preferred remedy. On September 30, 1999, EPA issued a Record of Decision selecting the remedial action for the Site. The selected remedy included the following components: Containment of the dissolved phase VOC plume at and in a portion of the aquifer determined to have Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs) by extraction and treatment of ground water (using the pump and treat system constructed during the removal action); passive treatment through Monitored Natural Attenuation to remediate contamination which has migrated beyond the Probable DNAPL Zone; a Technical Impracticability waiver of the Applicable and Relevant and Appropriate Requirement (ARAR) for Trichloroethene (TCE) in ground water and TCE and Perchloroethene in the subsurface soils in the probable DNAPL zone; land use restrictions in the Property and ground water use restrictions throughout the entire plume. Under a consent decree entered on March 22, 2002 in federal court in Philadelphia with the U.S. and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), site owner Square D Company carried out the cleanup plan approved by EPA and PaDEP in September 1999. Square completed activities related to the remedial design in September 30, 2002, and completed construction on September 29, 2003. Square D is continuing the operation of the pump and treat system and conducts monitoring of the Natural Attenuation (activities under EPA's oversight.)  An EPA five year review of the Site was completed on September 30, 2008 noted three issues to be evaluated.  A September 2013 five year review discussed the resolution of the three issues raised in the 2008 five year review and raised one current issue.  As recommended in the 2008 five year review a two year vapor intrusion investigation was conducted and determined that vapor intrusion was not occurring.  Implementation of institutional controls was raised as an issue in the 2008 five year review.   Institutional controls were implemented via an environmental covenant recorded by Square D in the office of the Recorder of Deeds for Lehigh County on September 18, 2013.  And finally, Site wells were sampled for 1,4 dioxane, as recommended, and 1,4 dioxane was not detected at the Site.  The September 2013 five year review found that the cleanup currently protects human health and the environment because the pump and treat system at the Site is functioning as designed.  It is containing the plume and is helping in the reduction of the concentrations of the Site contaminants.  Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) is working as intended, reducing the concentrations of contaminants outside the containment zone.  However, the EPA review also determined that the off-gas treatment of the ground water treatment system air stripper was not functioning properly.   It appeared likely that the majority, if not all, of the TCE being removed by the air stripper from the extracted groundwater had been exiting the system, untreated, through the building exhaust stack.  Following a successful pilot study in the winter of 2013 and spring of 2014 of alternate treatment of the extracted ground water via liquid phase carbon filtration without air stripping, a permanent switch to liquid phase carbon treatment of extracted groundwater was made in September 2014.  The liquid phase carbon filtration of extracted ground water effectively removes contaminants to the required levels for discharge to the storm sewer while eliminating any off gas from the system.  Routine, periodic replacement of the carbon treatment media will be required.

Contacts

Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

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