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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Bethlehem Apparatus Company in Hellerton, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

As part of the Environmental Indicator (EI) inspection and evaluation for Current Human Exposures and Migration of Contaminated Groundwater, a comprehensive record search and review were conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and its contractor, URS Corporation (URS). This undertaking consisted of evaluating the Facility's manufacturing operations and waste management practices, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit applications, historical spills and releases, documentation of previous site inspections, RCRA closure activities and correspondence between the EPA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections (PADEP) and the Facility.

On October 2007, PADEP and URS conducted a site visit. The visit consisted of a plant tour and information gathering to assess the current status of the Facility. No obvious areas of concern were identified during the visit. Historically, there appears to be no indications of spills or releases that have negatively impacted soil, groundwater, surface water, or air that would lead to adverse impacts to human health or the environment at this time.

EPA determined that there is no unacceptable human exposure to contamination nor is there any evidence of groundwater contamination caused by the Facility. Furthermore, EPA concludes that there have been no past or current releases that warrant further investigation or corrective action at this Facility at this time. On September 2009, EPA issued a Final Determination that no further action or land use controls are required at the Facility at this time. The Facility continues to operate under the Hazardous Waste Storage Permit (permit number PAD002390961) issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) for the storage and treatment of hazardous wastes.

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Site Description

Interactive map of Bethlehem Apparatus Company, Hellertown, PA

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Bethlehem Apparatus Company, Inc. (BAC) is situated on approximately 1.2 acres of land at the western limits of the Borough of Hellertown, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The Facility specializes in cost effective methods for recycling a wide variety of solid and liquid mercury bearing wastes. It is also a global supplier of prime virgin and high purity mercury and a manufacturer of glass-blowing equipment.

In 1948, BAC was founded by Henry and C.W. Nieman. The business initially operated out of the Neiman's homes. In 1950, the Nieman's purchased a parcel of land from the Borough of Hellertown at Front and Depot Streets. By 1951, operations were moved to the new facility. At the new facility, BAC manufactured glass-blowing equipment and distilled mercury. Until 1975, manufacturing of glass-blowing equipment accounted for approximately 80 percent and mercury distillation was approximately 20 percent of the company's business. In the mid-seventies the Facility shifted the majority of their operations towards mercury recovery and distillation, which now accounts for approximately 90 percent of the current business. 

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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary contaminant of concern was mercury however , EPA concluded that there have been no past or current releases that warrant further investigation or corrective action at this Facility at this time.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    Institutional controls were not required at the site.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    The facility is under continued use.

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    Site Responsibility at this Facility

    RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 3.

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