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Record of Decision System (RODS)

PALMERTON ZINC PILE

Abstract

Site Name:  PALMERTON ZINC PILE
Address:  211 FRANKLIN ST 
City & State:  PALMERTON  PA  18071
County:  CARBON
 
EPA ID:  PAD002395887
EPA Region:  03
 
NPL Status:  Currently on the Final NPL
 
ROD Type:  Record of Decision
ROD ID:  EPA/ROD/R03-87/036
ROD Date:  09/04/1987
Operable Unit(s):  01
 
Media:  SOIL SURFACE WATER WOODS
 
Contaminant:  CADMIUM, HEAVY METALS, INORGANICS, LEAD, SULFUR DIOXIDE, ZINC
 
Abstract:  THE PALMERTON ZINC SITE IS LOCATED IN CARBON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA. THE NEW JERSEY ZINC COMPANY CURRENTLY OPERATES TWO ZINC SMELTERS IN PALMERTON AT THE BASE OF BLUE MOUNTAIN. THESE TWO SMELTERS ARE REFERRED TO AS THE EAST AND WEST PLANTS. SINCE 1898, THE NEW JERSEY ZINC FACILITY HAS PRODUCED ZINC AND OTHER METALS FOR MACHINERY, PHARMACEUTICALS, PIGMENTS AND MANY OTHER PRODUCTS. PRIMARY SMELTING OF CONCENTRATED ZINC SULFIDE ORES WHICH WAS TERMINATED IN DECEMBER 1980, IS THE MAIN SOURCE OF POLLUTION. PRIOR TO DECEMBER 1980, THE SMELTERS EMITTED HUGE QUANTITIES OF ZINC, LEAD, CADMIUM AND SULFUR DIOXIDE WHICH LED TO THE DEFOLIATION OF APPROXIMATELY 2,000 ACRES ON BLUE MOUNTAIN, ADJACENT TO THE EAST SMELTER. VEGETATION DAMAGE FIRST APPEARED ON A 1951 AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH AS ISOLATED PATCHES ON THE STEEP, NORTH-FACING SLOPE OF BLUE MOUNTAIN LOCATED IMMEDIATELY SOUTH OF THE EAST PLANT. BY 1985, VEGETATION DAMAGE PROGRESSED OVER A CONTINUOUS WIDESPREAD AREA LEAVING BARREN, ERODED LAND VISIBLE. THE PRIMARY CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN LEADING TO THE DEFOLIATION OF BLUE MOUNTAIN INCLUDE; ZINC, LEAD, CADMIUM AND SULFUR DIOXIDE.

THE SELECTED INTERIM REMEDIAL MEASURE FOCUSES ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NATURAL EASTERN FOREST ECOSYSTEM AND INCLUDES; ONSITE INSTALLATION OF A CONCRETE PAD WITH BERMS TO MIX OFFSITE SEWAGE SLUDGE AND FLY ASH; CONSTRUCTION OF ACCESS ROADS; APPLICATION OF LIME (10 TONS PER ACRE) AND POTASH (80 POUNDS ACTUAL POTASSIUM PER ACRE) ON AREAS TARGETED FOR REVEGETATION; APPLICATION OF FLY ASH AND OFFSITE SLUDGE ON TARGET AREAS; APPLICATION OF GRASS SEED OR SEEDLINGS ONTO TARGET AREAS; AND APPLICATION OF MULCH TO PROTECT THE SEED. THE MUNICIPALITIES THAT MAY APPLY THE SEWAGE SLUDGE AND OTHER AMENDMENTS SHOULD DO SO AT NO COST TO EPA, PROVIDED THE COST OF IMPLEMENTING THE ALTERNATIVE IS LESS THAN IT COSTS THE MUNICIPALITIES TO DISPOSE OF THE SLUDGE. A MINIMAL CAPITAL COST MAY BE DEVELOPED PENDING THE OUTCOME OF MUNICIPALITY IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES. O&M WILL NOT BE REQUIRED.
 
Remedy:  THIS IS AN INTERIM REMEDY WHICH FOCUSES ON THE FIRST OF THREE SEPARATE OPERABLE UNITS AT THE NEW JERSEY ZINC SMELTER. THE OTHER TWO OPERABLE UNITS ARE BEING INVESTIGATED BY THE RESPONSIBLE PARTIES AND WILL BE ADDRESSED AT A LATER DATE.

THE SELECTED SITE REMEDY DOES NOT ATTEMPT TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH ALL ARARS, BUT WILL BE CONSISTENT, TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, WITH THOSE ACTION SPECIFIC ARARS ADDRESSING SLUDGE APPLICATION, THE CLEAN WATER ACT AND BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS.

THE SELECTED REMEDY CONSISTS OF USING A MIXTURE OF SEWAGE SLUDGE AND FLY ASH TO REVEGETATE THE DEFOLIATED AREAS OF BLUE MOUNTAIN. THE GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR THE REVEGETATION PROGRAM WOULD BE AS FOLLOWS;

- STEP 1; HEAVY EQUIPMENT (I.E., BULLDOZERS) WOULD BE USED TO INSTALL ACCESS ROADS IN THE AREAS TARGETED FOR REVEGETATION. A CONCRETE PAD WITH REASONABLE BERMS WOULD BE INSTALLED TO MIX THE SLUDGE AND FLY ASH ON-SITE.
- STEP 2; LIME POTASH APPLICATION -- LIME AND POTASH WOULD BE SPRAYED ON THE AREAS TARGETED FOR REVEGETATION. LIME WOULD BE APPLIED AT APPROXIMATELY 10 TONS PER ACRE AND POTASH AT 80 POUNDS ACTUAL K PER ACRE.
- STEP 3; SLUDGE-FLY ASH APPLICATION -- THE SLUDGE-FLY ASH MIXTURE WOULD BE APPLIED BY SPRAYING THE MIXTURE ONTO THE TARGET AREA. THE SLUDGE-FLY ASH RATIO WILL BE BASED ON FURTHER ANALYSIS OF THE FIELD TEST PLOTS. THE SLUDGE WILL BE OBTAINED FROM THE TOWN OF PALMERTON, ALLENTOWN, AND, IF NECESSARY, PHILADELPHIA.
- STEP 4; PLANT TARGET AREA -- GRASSES WOULD BE PLANTED BY BLOWING A MIXTURE OF GRASS SEED ONTO THE TARGET AREA. STUDIES ARE CONTINUING ON THE FEASIBILITY OF ALSO BLOWING TREE SEED ONTO THE AREA. IF TREE SEED WILL NOT GERMINATE, SEEDLINGS WILL BE PLANTED.
- STEP 5; APPLY MULCH -- TO PROTECT THE SEED AND PERMIT GERMINATION, ADEQUATE MULCH WILL HAVE TO BE APPLIED. MULCHING MAY BE REDUCED OR ELIMINATED IF SPRING OATS ARE PLANTED IN THE FALL. THIS WILL PROVIDE WINTER COVER THAT WILL DIE BY SPRING. THE TARGET AREAS CAN THEN BE SEEDED WITH THE PERMANENT PLANT SPECIES IN THE SPRING, AND THE SPRING OAT STUBBLE WILL SERVE AS A PROTECTIVE "MULCH" COVER FOR THE PERMANENT SPECIES NEEDED.
 
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