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EPA Puts Marjol Cleanup on Hold - Agency Grants Time Extension to Ombudsman

Release Date: 12/19/2000
Contact Information: Ruth Wuenschel, (215) 814-5540

Ruth Wuenschel, (215) 814-5540

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily suspended implementation of its final cleanup decision at the Marjol Battery hazardous waste site in Throop, Pa. The suspension will postpone start of the cleanup at least until after March 31, 2001, when the EPA’s national ombudsman has had the opportunity to consult with all the affected parties.

“During the suspension period, the ombudsman will explore whether there is additional information or an alternate approach that might be a basis for consensus,” said Bradley Campbell, regional administrator for the EPA’s mid-Atlantic office.

The EPA released the Marjol decision on December 4, 2000, more than a year after proposing a decision on October 15, 1999. The agency, at that time, requested public comments on the proposed decision and responded to all comments in a document released with the final decision.

Some community members were not satisfied with the EPA’s cleanup proposal, and requested the ombudsman’s involvement back in April. The ombudsman held a hearing in Throop on August 8, 2000, however, no formal recommendations were provided to EPA. So, at the recent urging of the local congressional delegation, the agency suspended the final decision to allow time for the ombudsman’s consultation and recommendations.

EPA’s national ombudsman is called in at hazardous cleanup sites across the country when community views are not consistent with the EPA’s. His role is to ensure that the community’s concerns are taken into consideration in the final decision-making process.

The final decision describes the cleanup measures that must be taken to eliminate the risk of lead contamination in the soil. The contamination was caused when the site’s former occupants, Marjol Battery, disposed of crushed automotive battery casings on-site, after most of the lead had been removed for resale. The current site owners, Gould Electronics, will be responsible for financing and carrying out the cleanup, estimated at $14 million to $24 million, with EPA oversight.

The cleanup measures described in the now-suspended final decision include: 1) excavating a portion of the site which is vulnerable to potholes and fires from two nearby coal seams; 2) treating the top five feet of soil with a cement-like compound to stabilize it; 3) constructing a 10-acre cap to contain all of the most contaminated soil; 4) restricting the use of the capped portion of the site to make sure the cap is protected from damage; 5) maintaining and monitoring the site indefinitely; and 6) disposing off site any material that cannot fit under the cap.

“My office will continue to communicate and cooperate with the ombudsman’s office to facilitate a workable solution to this stalemate. We need to move forward toward cleanup as soon as possible,” said Campbell.