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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: NGK Metals in Reading, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

On September 7, 2007 EPA prepared a proposed decision that Corrective Action is complete with the institutional controls that required for groundwater monitoring and control.

NGK is currently optimizing the groundwater pump and treat system installed pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Section 3008 (h), Administrative Consent Order of June, 1994 (Order). NGK entered into the Order as a result of documented releases of hazardous wastes and constituents into the air, soil, and groundwater at the facility. Impermeable asphalt-geotechnical caps installed for source control continue to function as designed.

As part of the Order, facility use was restricted to continue to protect human health and the environment into the future. Use restrictions enforced under the order are:

  • Limit land use to industrial.
  • Prevent the installation of on-site drinking water wells.
  • Require future land owners to maintain the asphalt caps and interceptor swales.
  • Prevent construction or other activities that could damage the ability of the caps or swales to prevent precipitation infiltration.
  • Require that all designs or changes to the facility involving soil disturbances be submitted to EPA for approval.

Cleanup Background

In March through August of 1991, an off-site investigation in the vicinity of NGK took place. The groundwater on- and off-site was sampled, off-site water quality was tested, an inventory of residential and commercial water wells was performed, soil on- and off-site was sampled. Levels of beryllium in residential soils at that time was found to range from 0.5 ppm to 6.9 ppm.

Between 1991 and 1993, the first “Petitioned Public Health Assessment Initial Release” was performed on the NGK Metals site by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The ATSDR determined that the NGK site did not present a public health threat.

In June 23, 1998, a second “Petitioned Health Consultation study” on the NGK Metals site was completed by ATSDR.  It concluded that “the off-site ambient air beryllium concentrations indicated that the facility presents no public health hazard to non-hypersensitive population.”

An EPA RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) and RCRA Corrective Measures Study were performed on the site in accordance with the 1994 RCRA Administrative Consent Order. The Order required NGK, among other minor things, to relocate and cap hazardous waste piles, build interceptor swales to control stormwater over the caps, pump and treat contaminated groundwater, conduct periodic sampling, and maintain security of the site. 

Construction of an impermeable cap over the source areas at the Facility, installation of a groundwater collection-extraction system, and groundwater treatment plant are completed.

The “Engineer’s Certification of Cap Installation Report” was finalized on June 12, 2006.  It covers the Eastern and Western Red Mud Areas on the facility. 

An Ecological Evaluation was performed in September 2009 pursuant to the existing Consent Order.  The evaluation included surface water quality, sediment quality, and biota sampling to determine if historical operations impacted the biological communities in Laurel Run.  The conclusions were that there are no apparent direct impacts, the conditions are typical of an urban stream, and that no further ecological evaluation is necessary.  EPA approved the findings on January 22, 2010. 

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Site Description

Interactive Map of NGK Metals in Reading, Pennsylvania


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The NGK Metals site is located on 65 acres in Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania, within a few miles of the City of Reading.  Since 1935, various companies have operated as a beryllium processing facility.  The facility became NGK in 1986. 

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Contaminants at this Facility

Beryllium, chromium, and fluoride are the contaminants of concern at the NGK facility.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Institutional Controls include:

  • Limit land use to industrial.
  • Prevent the installation of on-site drinking water wells.
  • Require future land owners to maintain the asphalt caps and interceptor swales.
  • Prevent construction or other activities that could damage the ability of the caps or swales to prevent precipitation infiltration.
  • Require that all designs or changes to the facility involving soil disturbances be submitted to EPA for approval.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The facility is unused.

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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 with assistance from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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