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Berks Landfill

Fact Sheet: May 1997

Spring Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania

EPA Issues the Proposed Remedial Action Plan

On April 25, 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (Proposed Plan) for the Berks Landfill Superfund Site (the Site). The Proposed Plan presents the six clean-up alternatives that EPA evaluated to address the contamination at the Site and highlights EPA's preferred clean-up alternative. This fact sheet describes all of the alternatives presented in the Proposed Plan.

EPA will select a final plan to clean up the Site after the public has had the opportunity to comment on these alternatives. Please see below for information on how you can contribute comments on the Proposed Plan.

How Did EPA Determine the Clean-up Alternatives in the Proposed Plan?

In July 1991, EPA issued an Administrative Order on Consent (Consent Order)* to the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to conduct Remedial Investigation (RI) and Feasibility Study (FS) activities. The RI identified the types and amounts of contamination at the Site. The FS further examined the information from the RI and recommended clean-up methods for EPA to evaluate.

The PRPs hired a contractor to conduct the RI/FS activities. During these activities, the contractor found volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination in the ground water beneath the Site. The ground water under the eastern landfill was the most contaminated. The VOCs included vinyl chloride; benzene; 1,1-dichloroethene; 1,2-dichloroethene; and trichloroethene. The PRPs described eight clean-up alternatives in the final FS Report submitted to EPA in February 1997. After reviewing all the information concerning the available clean-up alternatives, EPA included six of the eight alternatives in the Proposed Plan.

EPA chose not to include Alternatives 6 and 8 in the Proposed Plan because their costs are significantly higher than the other alternatives, but they do not provide additional protection to human health or the environment.

* All words in bold italic are defined in the Glossary of Terms at the end of this fact sheet.

Public Meeting

Wednesday, May 14, 1997 @ 7:00 p.m.
Spring Township Building
2800 Shillington Road

The Purpose of the Proposed Plan

The Preferred Alternative

EPA's preferred alternative for addressing the contaminated ground water at the Berks Landfill Site is Alternative 4: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, and Landfill Cap Repair Alternative 4B. See below for a complete description of this alternative.

The Clean-up Alternatives

Following are descriptions of the clean-up alternatives that EPA reviewed in the Berks Landfill Proposed Plan.

Alternative 1: No Further Action

Alternative 2: Institutional Controls and Leachate Management System Operation

Alternative 3: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, and Leachate Collection System Expansion

Alternative 4: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, and Landfill Cap Repairs

Cap Repair Alternative 4A
Cap Repair Alternative 4B
Cap Repair Alternative 4C
Cap Repair Alternative 4D

Alternative 5: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, Landfill Cap Repairs (Cap Repair Alternatives 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D), Leachate Collection System Expansion, and Regrading the Crown of the Eastern Landfill

Alternative 7: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, Landfill Cap Repairs (Cap Repair Alternatives 4A, 4B, 4C, and 4D), Leachate Collection System Expansion, and Limited Ground Water Extraction

Evaluation Criteria

Before a proposed alternative becomes EPA's preferred clean-up choice, it must meet a series of evaluation criteria. These criteria serve as standards for the cleanup of all Superfund sites. EPA proposes the preferred alternative - Alternative 4: Institutional Controls, Monitoring, Leachate Management System Operation, and Landfill Cap Repair Alternative 4B - to address the contaminated ground water at the Berks Landfill Superfund Site. Alternative 4 best meets the nine evaluation criteria below.

Site History

The Berks Landfill Superfund Site is located in Spring Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, south of Wheatfield Road, 2.3 miles southwest of Sinking Spring, and seven miles southwest of Reading. The landfill consists of two main areas: the eastern landfill, which covers 47 acres, and the western landfill, which covers 19 acres. The southeast portion of the landfill is called the Wood Dump because large amounts of trees, stumps, and other construction debris were dumped there. The northeast portion of the Site covers the abandoned Wheatfield Mine Workings.

Landfill Operations

Between the 1950s and 1986, the landfill accepted municipal waste and demolition/construction debris. From 1975 through 1986, the eastern landfill operated under a permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). Former landfill employees reported that industrial wastes were disposed of at the Wood Dump during the latter period, which was illegal under the PADEP permit. In 1986, PADEP ordered the eastern landfill to be closed and covered by a vegetated soil cap.

Western Landfill

Between the 1960s and mid-1970s, the western landfill received mostly municipal waste. From 1979 to 1980, the western landfill received some industrial wastes and sludges. These sludges were stabilized and disposed of in the south central area of the landfill, known as the Stabatrol area. During the 1970s, the western landfill was closed and covered with a graded, low-permeability soil cap. The Stabatrol area was capped in 1980.

Landfill Closure

In 1986, landfilling operations at the Site stopped, and the property was closed in accordance with a PADEP Consent Order. Sometime during landfill operations or landfill closure, the operators took steps to control contamination. These measures included:

EPA Lists Landfill on NPL

On June 24, 1988, EPA proposed the Berks Landfill Site for inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL), a list of the nation's most serious abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. On October 2, 1989, EPA formally listed the Site on the NPL.

EPA Issues Legal Order to PRPs

On August 7, 1990, EPA issued a Unilateral Order for Removal Action to the PRPs, instructing them to take additional steps to prevent the spread of contaminants. These additional measures included installation of a security fence and locking gates surrounding the eastern landfill and lagoons; repairs to the existing cap over the eastern landfill; and installation of a leachate collection system.

RI/FS Activities

On July 5, 1991, EPA and the PRPs entered into a Consent Order to conduct RI/FS activities. The PRPs hired a contractor to conduct these activities. In June 1992, EPA approved the PRP's RI/FS Work Plan, a document that describes in detail the work that will be conducted during that phase. Following the RI/FS activities, the PRPs submitted the Feasibility Study Report in February 1997, which outlined possible clean-up alternatives to address the contamination at the Site.

Public Comment Period

EPA relies on public input to ensure that the preferred clean-up alternative meets the needs and concerns of the community. To solicit this input, EPA has opened a public comment period on the Proposed Plan and the preferred alternative. The comment period began on April 25, 1997, and will end on May 26, 1997. In addition, EPA will hold a public meeting on May 14, 1997 (see above for more details).

All comments and questions about the Proposed Plan EPA receives during the comment period and at the public meeting will be addressed fully in the Responsiveness Summary. The Responsiveness Summary becomes part of the Record of Decision which officially documents EPA's selected clean-up plan for the Site. Please feel free to call or write to one of the EPA representatives listed below with your comments or questions. Please mail all comments to Charlie Root at the address listed below. All comments must be postmarked by May 26, 1997.

Community Involvement Coordinator
Richard Kuhn

U.S. EPA, Region III
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

For More Information

The Administrative Record File is an official collection of reports, correspondence, and other documents that reflect EPA's process of selecting a clean-up plan for the Berks Landfill Superfund Site. You can review the Site's Administrative Record File at the following locations:

Sinking Spring Library
506 Penn Avenue
Sinking Spring, PA 19608
Monday - Thursday, 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

U.S. EPA, Region III
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
Contact: Anna Butch (butch.anna@epa.gov)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Please call to schedule a visit.

Glossary of Terms

Administrative Order on Consent (Consent Order)
A legal agreement between EPA and PRPs in which the PRPs agree to pay for clean-up activities, conduct clean-up activities, or refrain from any sort of clean-up activity having to do with a site.
A naturally occurring, colorless liquid, with a sweet odor used to make styrofoam, plastics, resins, nylon, and other synthetic fibers.
A layer of clay or other impermeable material installed over the top of a closed landfill to prevent entry of rain water and minimize leachate.
A man-made chemical used to make certain plastic wraps and flame- retardant fabrics. It is a colorless liquid with a mild, sweet smell that evaporates quickly at room temperature.
A man-made, organic compound which exists as a clear liquid at room temperature. This chemical often is identified as a product of trichloroethene degradation.
Liquid that passes through a landfill and has picked up dissolved, suspended, and/or other contaminants from the waste.
Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs):
The companies or people responsible for the contamination at a site. Whenever possible, through administrative and legal actions, EPA requires these parties to clean up hazardous waste sites they have contaminated.
A man-made, organic chemical compound that is used as an industrial metal degreaser and in the creation of fluorocarbons. This chemical is an effective solvent and frequently is used in the dry cleaning and textile industries.
Vinyl Chloride:
A chemical compound used to produce some plastics.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
Man-made, carbon-based chemicals that vaporize when they come in contact with air. VOCs are commonly used as solvents, degreasers, and dry cleaning chemicals.

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