December 1996 Fact Sheet
The former Westinghouse Electric Sharon Transformer Plant (Westinghouse) sits on a 50-acre site along the Shenango River in Sharon, Mercer County, Pennsylvania. During its operations from 1922 to 1985, Westinghouse manufactured and distributed electrical transformers. Between 1936 and 1976, Westinghouse used blends of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and trichlorobenzene in the manufacture of transformers at the plant.
During operations in the late 1970s and early 1980s, plant spills and occasional PCB surfacing occurred at the site. As these incidents occurred, Westinghouse removed the spilled materials and cleaned the contaminated areas.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), are working together with Westinghouse to study contamination at the site and develop appropriate clean-up actions. PADEP, formerly known as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER), conducted initial investigations at the site. In order to better address the contamination, the site was divided into three areas; the North Sector, Middle Sector, and South Sector (see map on page 2). This fact sheet contains an informational timeline detailing the site history and tells you what happens next at the site.
New EPA Project Manager
Vic Janosik is the new EPA Remedial Project Manager for the Westinghouse site. Vic has 12 years of experience with EPA, and has assumed EPA site responsibility from David Turner who accepted another major site assignment with EPA. See page 4 for his phone number and address.
A Site Timeline History
- PCBs became known as a possible human carcinogen. Westinghouse discontinued PCB use and removed and incinerated 48,000 gallons of PCBs and 15,000 gallons of organic solvents from the site.
- December 1984
- PADER investigated a spill from an underground storage tank which released over 6,000 gallons of PCB-contaminated oil. Some of the spilled contaminated oil leaked into sewers that drained into the Pine Run tributary of the Shenango River. PADERÕs investigation determined that Westinghouse contained and cleaned up the spill.
- April 1985
- PADER issued an order to Westinghouse to determine the sources and amount of PCB-oil and industrial solvent contamination at the site. ARMCO (Sawhill Tubular) purchased the North Sector property and buildings at the site and remains in operation today. Although ARMCO found low to moderate levels of PCBs inside and outside the buildings, ARMCO paved the outside of the property and cleaned the inside of the buildings.
- November 1985
- EPA detected PCBs at two of the four locations where Westinghouse discharged plant waste water into the Shenango River. These discoveries caused concern because the Shenango Valley Water Company, supplier of public drinking water to an estimated 75,000 people, used water from the Shenango River downstream as its water supply source. PCBs were also detected in river sediment and fish near the public water source.
- September 1988
- Westinghouse found that site soils and ground water contain hazardous substances, including PCBs and other organic compounds. In anticipation of the site being listed on the National Priorities List (NPL), PADER and Westinghouse entered into a Consent Order and Agreement, requiring Westinghouse to implement a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS).
- American Industries purchased the "Y" building where it remains in operation today.
- August 1990
- EPA added the site to the Superfund NPL.
- February 1994
- EPA issued an order to Westinghouse requiring the company to develop and implement a response action plan for removing oil lying on top of ground water at the site. Winner International (Winner) purchased the A/B building and surrounding property. Winner removed contaminated soil found under the building floor.
- March 1994
- EPA held a public meeting at the Case Avenue Elementary School Auditorium in Sharon, Pennsylvania, to discuss EPA's order to Westinghouse.
- February 1995
- EPA announced that future owners of the Westinghouse property may be released from liabilities for environmental hazards that exist at the site.
- March 1995
- EPA collected samples from the Middle Sector building, still owned by Westinghouse, to check for PCBs and lead. Analyses found significant levels of both contaminants in certain areas of the building.
- April 1996
- PADEP (formerly PADER) accepted the final Remedial Investigation Report produced by Westinghouse.
- July 1996
- Westinghouse submitted a Screening-Level Ecological Risk Assessment to address ecological concerns at the site. This assessment currently is under review by PADEP and EPA.
- October 1996
- EPA prepared a Baseline Risk Assessment for the Middle Sector building which indicated significant potential risk to workers who might occupy the vacant building. Westinghouse submitted a baseline Human Health Risk Assessment to address human health concerns associated with the contamination at the site. This assessment currently is under review by PADEP and EPA.
What Happens Next?
Westinghouse will develop a Feasibility Study (FS) based on the Remedial Investigation (RI) and the Risk Assessment to evaluate and compare possible clean-up methods for the site. Following review of the draft Feasibility Study by PADEP and EPA, Westinghouse will make the necessary revisions.
Next, EPA will develop the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (Proposed Plan). The Proposed Plan summarizes the findings of the Remedial Investigation, the Risk Assessments, and the Feasibility Study for the Westinghouse site. It also explains proposed clean-up alternatives and recommends a preferred alternative based on EPA's evaluation criteria (see box below). Following the release of the Proposed Plan, EPA will hold a public comment period lasting a minimum of 30 days. During this time, EPA will also hold a public meeting to discuss the Proposed Plan and address the community’s concerns.
After the public comment period ends and EPA has considered all community input, EPA will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Westinghouse Site. The ROD will announce EPA’s final selection of a clean-up action. Following the ROD, EPA will oversee implementation of the clean-up action.
EPA's Evaluation Criteria
EPA evaluates each alternative against the nine criteria below to select a preferred clean-up alternative.
- Overall protection of human health and the environment;
- Compliance with federal, state, and local requirements;
- Long-term effectiveness;
- Reduction of toxicity, mobility, or volume of contaminants;
- Short-term effectiveness:
- Community acceptance; and
- State acceptance
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
- a group of toxic and persistent organic chemicals used in electrical transformers, capacitors, and as a heat exchange fluid. Sales of PCBs for new use were discontinued in 1979. PCBs are possible human carcinogens.
- Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study
- a two-part scientific report composed of the RI and FS. The RI determines the type and extent of contaminants present at the site and problems caused by their release. The FS develops and evaluates options for site cleanup.
- a cancer-causing agent.
- Ground water
- water found beneath the earthss surface.
- National Priorities List (NPL)
- EPA's list of the nationÕs most serious hazardous waste sites that are eligible to receive Federal money for clean-up action under Superfund.
- common name for the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Enacted by Congress in 1980, Superfund gives EPA the authority to stop releases or potential releases of hazardous substances. It also provides funding for clean up when responsible parties are not able to do so.
- chemical used in electrical transformers, capacitors, and as a heat exchange fluid.
- Risk Assessment
- a means of estimating the amount of risk posed by a Superfund site to human health or the environment
EPA maintains a collection of documents called the Administrative Record File, which is located at the information repository. The Administrative Record File contains information used for the Westinghouse Sharon Superfund Site. EPA places documents in the Administrative Record File as they are prepared and finalized. Community members are encouraged to review the information in the Administrative Record File. The information repository is listed below.
Shenango Valley Community Library
(formerly Buhl Henderson Library)
Contact: Karen Spak
11 North Sharpsville Avenue
Sharon, PA 16146
Monday -Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m
EPA & PADEP Contacts
For more information about the Westinghouse Sharon Superfund Site please contact one of the following EPA or PADEP officials:
Pa. Department of Environmental Protection
Northwest Regional Office
230 Chestnut Street
Meadville, PA 16335
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. EPA Region III, (3HW22)
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
Community Involvement Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region III, 3HW43
410 Methodist Building
Wheeling, WV 26003