John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Current Site Information
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)Pennsylvania
EPA ID# None
1st Congressional District
Last Update: March 2008
Current Site StatusThe responsible party, Sun Oil Company, has removed all of the crude oil from the surface water of the 145-acre impoundment at the refuge. Contaminated soils and sediments have been removed and the formerly contaminated areas have been revegetated with new plants and grasses, and the area has been fenced to prevent deer and geese from disrupting the development of the new plantings. EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Justice and Sun Oil Company negotiated a final settlement of $3.6 million in July 2005.
Site DescriptionThe Refuge consists of an area of approximately 1200 acres and is situated between the densely populated Eastwick Section of Philadelphia, Philadelphia International Airport and Darby Township, Delaware County. In the 1950s, Gulf Corporation donated the property currently known as the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to the City of Philadelphia. Gulf retained a small parcel containing Gulf’s oil pipelines. In 1972, the City of Philadelphia donated the property to the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which renamed the area the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. The parcel of land containing the pipelines was conveyed from Gulf to Chevron, Inc. and, later, from Chevron, Inc. to Sun Pipe Line Company. Pipelines carrying crude oil traverse the Wildlife Refuge, originating at the Hog Island Wharf, located on the Delaware River near Fort Mifflin, and terminating at the Darby Creek Tank Farm. Recent expansion of the Philadelphia Airport has required the relocation of sections of the pipeline to accommodate new airport terminal construction.
Site ResponsibilityThis site is being addressed by a Potentially Responsible Party under an EPA Unilateral Order for Abatement of Endangerment under the Oil Pollution Act.
NPL Listing HistoryNot on the National Priorities List (NPL)
Threats and Contaminants
On February 5, 2000, a visitor to the Refuge reported smelling oil odors to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who, upon investigation, observed oil on the ground, along the shoreline of a surface impoundment, and pooling on the ice in the vicinity of the oil pipeline. Sun personnel, with local and federal spill response personnel oversight, initiated mitigation efforts, including the dispatching of boom to limit the spread of oil within the 145-acre impoundment and the use of vacuum trucks and tanks to collect the discharged oil.
The oil discharge may have affected severely endangered species and wildlife. During the week of February 21, 2000, several oil-covered turtles, including snappers and red-eared pond sliders, were recovered form the oil-contaminated impoundment. The FWS reported that a red-bellied turtle was also recovered, and that species is currently listed on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s List of Threatened Species. The turtles were wiped with absorbent material in an effort to clean them, and then they were turned over to Tri-State Bird and Rescue for further care.
A walking path, open to and used by the public, through the Refuge borders the Impoundment that became contaminated by the discharge. In addition, a highly populated residential area is within ½ mile of the spill site to the north and within one mile to the west.