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Press Release

Lower Darby Creek

1650 Arch Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
Phone - 215/814-5100 Fax - 215/814-5102

EPA Environmental News
May 11, 2000

Contact: Ruth Podems, (215) 814-5540

Lower Darby Creek Area Site Proposed to EPA Hazardous Site List

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to add the Lower Darby Creek Area site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) of most hazardous waste sites today. Nationwide, EPA is adding seven sites and proposing to add 14 sites to the list. The Lower Darby Creek Area site is the only mid-Atlantic site being added or proposed.

EPA's Regional Administrator Bradley Campbell announced the proposal at a press briefing today at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge, one of the areas affected by the site's contamination.

"Adding this site to the Superfund list will protect the precious resources in the wildlife refuge and communities surrounding it. The refuge is a unique ecosystem – the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in the state," Campbell said.

The National Priorities List is a national list of sites where hazardous contaminants have impacted our could impact the public and/or the environment. NPL sites undergo a thorough investigation to determine the full nature and extent of the contamination. EPA or the parties responsible for the contamination then address whatever risks the sites pose to human health and the environment. At federally owned sites, such as military facilities, the appropriate federal department or agency is responsible for the cleanup.

The Lower Darby Creek Area (LDCA) site is located in southeastern Delaware County and southwestern Philadelphia County, Pa. It stretches approximately two miles along Darby Creek, between Cobbs Creek to the north and the tidal marsh of John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to the south. The site also includes more downstream areas of Darby Creek and the tidal marsh, which have also become contaminated.

The LDCA site includes six contiguous properties or groups of properties, located in the Eastwick section of Philadelphia and in Darby Township and Folcroft Borough in Delaware County. From north to south, these properties are: the Clearview Landfill, the Industrial Drive Properties (a group of several individual properties), the Sunoco Darby Creek Tank Farm, the former Delaware County Sewage Treatment Plant, the former Delaware County Incinerator, and the Folcroft Landfill and Folcroft Landfill Annex.

Each of these six properties or groups of properties contains waste disposal areas or other sources of contaminants. The Clearview Landfill and the Folcroft Landfill and Annex were used for the disposal of municipal waste between the late 1950s and early 1970s. The Industrial Drive properties were the location of a dump in the 1950s and are currently occupied by salvage yards, vehicle repair shops, and other businesses. The Sunoco (formerly Gulf Oil) Darby Creek Tank Farm property is a crude oil tank storage facility, constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s over a rock quarry filled in with wastes from the Philadelphia refinery. The former Delaware County Sewage Treatment Plant operated between the late 1950s and early 1970s and included a sewage sludge disposal area. The former Delaware County Incinerator operated from the mid 1960s until late 1970s, with some of the ash residue generated by the incinerator being landfilled in surrounding areas.

The waste sources on these properties have contributed to a release of hazardous substances into the waters of Darby Creek and other nearby streams. Hazardous substances of concern include heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxin. The release of these substances into Darby Creek poses a threat to people who might consume fish from the creek, as well as an ecological threat to wetland areas and other sensitive environments. Of special concern is the 1200-acre John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, which includes the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania.

A 60-day public comment period on the proposed Superfund listing begins on May 11 and runs through July 10. Documents are available for review at the EPA Region III Superfund Docket in Philadelphia, and also at two local information repositories: the Sharon Hill Public Library (Sharon Ave. & Spring St., Sharon Hill, Pa., 610-586-3993) and the Eastwick Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library (2851 Island Ave., near Lindbergh Blvd., 215-685-4170). For additional information, please contact the EPA Region III Superfund Docket at (215) 814-5364. Selected scoring materials and related information is also available on the Internet at www.epa.gov/superfund/new/newnpl.htm

EPA will hold an Availability Session for the local community on Monday, June 5 in the evening. An exact time will be announced in local newspapers prior to the meeting. EPA experts will be on hand to answer questions about the site, the Superfund process, and opportunities for public input. The Availability Session will be held at the Delaware County Emergency Services Training Center, located at southern end of Calcon Hook Rd. in Folcroft, Delaware County, Pa.

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