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EPA Orders Exide/GBC to Survey and Clean Up Contaminated Soil

Release Date: 9/8/2000
Contact Information: Ruth Wuenschel, (215) 814-5540

Ruth Wuenschel, 215-814-5540

LAURELDALE, Pa. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Exide/General Battery Corp. to investigate the extent of lead contamination in soil near its plant and to clean up properties that contain unsafe lead levels.

The first phase of the cleanup requires Exide to clean up 19 properties adjacent to the facility and should be completed by the end of October. This work was required by an order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of the Environmental Protection which is now incorporated into the EPA order.

Exide also will test the soils on approximately 20 properties located to the north of the facility to determine if lead contamination occurred, and if so, remove it.

In addition, Exide has agreed to collect additional soil samples from other properties in the area to determine the extent of lead contamination. Once the testing is completed, Exide will determine appropriate cleanup levels and conduct remediation wherever necessary.

The order will be subject to a 30-day public comment period beginning on September 8 and ending
October 9, during which time EPA will accept comments from the public or other interested parties. The EPA will also conduct a public meeting on September 27 at 7 p.m. at the Muhlenberg Middle School, at 801 E. Bellevue Street in Reading to explain the specific actions required by the order and address any questions and concerns raised by the community.

At the end of the comment period, EPA will review all comments received and will issue the order as final or modify it according to the comments received.

Exide/General Battery Corporation, located at Nolan Street and Spring Valley Road, bought the property from General Battery in 1987. The facility has been operating as a secondary lead smelter since 1935. The source of lead off-site is believed to be general plant operations prior to the introduction of air pollution control requirements in the late 1960s.