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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/R03-88/063
ROD Date:  06/29/1988
Operable Unit(s):  02
 
Media:  GROUND WATER SURFACE WATER SEDIMENTS
 
Contaminant:  CADMIUM, LEAD, ZINC
 
Abstract:  THE PALMERTON ZINC SITE IS COMPOSED OF TWO LOCATIONS IN THE BOROUGH OF PALMERTON, CARBON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA. SMELTING OPERATIONS HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED AT TWO LOCATIONS, A WEST SMELTER AND AN EAST SMELTER, FLANKING THE TOWN OF PALMERTON, WHICH IS LOCATED AT THE CONFLUENCE OF THE LEHIGH RIVER AND AQUASHICOLA CREEK. APPROXIMATELY 7,000 RESIDENTS LIVE IN PALMERTON, MANY OF WHOM WORK AT THE SMELTING FACILITY. LAND USE IN THE AREA IS INDUSTRIAL, RESIDENTIAL, AND AGRICULTURAL. THE DRAINAGE PATTERN IN THE SITE AREA IS TOWARD AQUASHICOLA CREEK, DESIGNATED A WARM WATER FISHERY BY THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, WHICH FLOWS INTO LEHIGH RIVER. SMELTING OPERATIONS WERE CONDUCTED IN THE WEST PLANT FROM 1898 TO 1987, AND IN THE EAST PLANT FROM 1911 TO PRESENT. THE SITE HAS HAD THREE OWNERS, INCLUDING THE CURRENT OPERATOR, ZINC CORPORATION OF AMERICA, AND HISTORICALLY HAS PRODUCED ZINC AND OTHER METALS FOR A VARIETY OF PRODUCTS. PRIMARY SMELTING OF CONCENTRATED ZINC SULFIDE ORES, CONDUCTED UNTIL DECEMBER 1980, RESULTED IN THE EMISSION OF LARGE QUANTITIES OF ZINC, LEAD, CADMIUM, AND SULFER DIOXIDE. THIS AIR POLLUTION CAUSED DEFOLIATION OF OVER 2,000 ACRES OF VEGETATION IN THE VICINITY OF THE EAST SMELTER. BETWEEN 1898 AND 1987 PROCESS RESIDUE AND OTHER PLANT WASTES (AS WELL AS MUNICIPAL WASTE UNTIL 1970) WERE DISPOSED OF ON CINDER BANK, A 2.5-MILE, 2,000-ACRE WASTE PILE LOCATED BEHIND THE EAST PLANT AT THE BASE OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. CINDER BANK (SEE ATTACHED SHEET) CONTAINS APPROXIMATELY 27.5 MILLION TONS OF LEACHABLE METALS INCLUDING LEAD, ZINC, AND CADMIUM, AS WELL AS CARBONACEOUS MATERIAL. LARGE BLOCKS OF RESIDUE CRACK AND BREAK OFF, ALLOWING RAPID INFILTRATION OF RUNOFF DURING PERIODS OF RAIN AND SNOW MELT, RESULTING IN CONTAMINATED LEACHATE PERCOLATING DOWN TO THE GROUND WATER AND SEEPING OUT OF CINDER BANK. THIS REMEDIAL ACTION ADDRESSES CINDER BANK. ADDITIONAL AREAS OF CONTAMINATION AS WELL AS GROUND WATER AND SURFACE WATER CONTAMINATION WILL BE ADDRESSED IN SUBSEQUENT REMEDIAL ACTIONS. THE PRIMARY CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN AFFECTING THE SEDIMENTS, GROUND WATER, AND SURFACE WATER ARE METALS INCLUDING CADMIUM, LEAD AND ZINC. THE SELECTED REMEDIAL ACTION FOR THIS SITE INCLUDES: SLOPE MODIFICATION, CAPPING, AND APPLICATION OF A VEGETATIVE COVER ON CINDER BANK; CONSTRUCTION OF SURFACE WATER DIVERSION CHANNELS; SURFACE WATER AND LEACHATE COLLECTION AND TREATMENT USING LIME-ACTIVATED FILTRATION LAGOONS AND/OR CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS; IMPLEMENTATION OF AN INSPECTION, MONITORING, AND MAINTENANCE PLAN; AND WETLANDS RESTORATION MEASURES, IF NECESSARY. THE ESTIMATED PRESENT WORTH COST FOR THIS REMEDIAL ACTION WILL BE IN EXCESS OF $2,861,800; HOWEVER, THE EXACT FIGURE WILL NOT BE KNOWN UNTIL AGREEMENT IS REACHED ON THE EXTENT OF REMEDIATION DURING REMEDIAL DESIGN.
 
Remedy:  THIS INNOVATIVE INTERIM REMEDY FOCUSES ON THE SECOND OF FOUR SEPARATE OPERABLE UNITS AT THE PALMERTON ZINC SMELTER SITE. THE FIRST OPERABLE UNIT, BLUE MOUNTAIN, IS IN THE REMEDIAL DESIGN PHASE WHILE THE REMAINING TWO OPERABLE UNITS, THE VALLEY SOIL CONTAMINATION AND THE AREA-WIDE GROUNDWATER AND SURFACE WATER CONTAMINATION, ARE BOTH IN THE RI/FS PHASE.

THE SELECTED SITE INTERIM REMEDY DOES ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH ALL ARARS AND WILL BE CONSISTENT, TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE, WITH THOSE SPECIFIED HEREIN. THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SELECTED CAPPING AND VEGETATION PROJECT WILL PROVIDE LEACHATE REDUCTION BY WAY OF INFLUENCING PRECIPITATION INFILTRATION (IN COMBINATION WITH CONTOURING OF SLOPES) AND ELIMINATE PARTICLE EROSION THEREBY PROVIDING PROTECTION TO THE ENVIRONMENT.

THE SELECTED INTERIM REMEDY FOR THE CINDER BANK CONSISTS OF CONTOURING THE CINDER BANK TO ACCEPTABLE SLOPES, CONTROLLING SURFACE WATER RUN-ON, AND RUNOFF, PLACEMENT OF A SOIL CLAY BARRIER AND USING A MIXTURE OF WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT SLUDGE AND FLY ASH AS A SUBSTRATE FOR VEGETATION. PRE-DESIGN STUDIES WILL BE PERFORMED TO DETERMINE THE BEST METHOD OF CONTROLLING OR EXTINGUISHING THE INTERNAL FIRES WITHIN PORTIONS OF THE CINDER BANK.

IN ADDITION, TREATABILITY STUDIES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN WITH REGARD TO THE COLLECTION AND TREATMENT OF SURFACE WATER RUNOFF FROM THE CINDER BANK USING CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS AND LIME TREATMENT IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE ALREADY OPERATIONAL FACILITY WATER TREATMENT PLANT. THE CINDER BANK RUN-OFF COLLECTION AND TREATMENT SYSTEMS ARE NEEDED INITIALLY SINCE COVERING THE CINDER BANK MAY TAKE AT LEAST THREE YEARS. SURFACE WATER RUN-ON TO THE CINDER BANK FROM BLUE MOUNTAIN WILL BE CONTROLLED BY THE CONSTRUCTION OF SURFACE WATER DIVERSION CHANNELS.

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE WILL BE IMPLEMENTED FOR THIS OPERABLE UNIT ONCE IT HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED THAT TREATMENT DISCHARGE TO THE AQUASHICOLA CREEK, IF NECESSARY, MEETS THE CLEAN-UP GOALS IN THE ATTACHED RECORD OF DECISION. THIS IS IN CONFORMANCE WITH SECTION 104 (C)(I)(6) OF CERCLA, 42 U.S.C. SECTION 9604(C)(I)(6).

THE GENERAL PROCEDURES FOR THE ABOVE DESCRIBED REMEDIATION WILL BE AS FOLLOWS:

STEP 1: CONTOUR SLOPES OF CINDER BANK SLOPE MODIFICATION IS REQUIRED TO ENHANCE PRECIPITATION RUN-OFF FROM THE CINDER BANK AND REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF PRECIPITATION INFILTRATION AND PARTICULATE EROSION. HEAVY EQUIPMENT WILL BE USED TO MODIFY SLOPES TARGETED FOR VEGETATION. EXCESSIVELY STEEP OR OTHERWISE UNSTABLE SLOPES MAY BE BUILT-UP FROM THE TOE OF THE SLOPE. GAS VENTS WILL BE INSTALLED, IF NECESSARY. THE REMEDIAL DESIGN GENERATED PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS INTERIM REMEDIAL ACTION WILL PROVIDE GRADING SPECIFICATIONS NECESSARY TO ENSURE SUCCESS IN THE FINAL CAP PLACEMENT.

STEP 2: CONSTRUCTION OF SURFACE WATER DIVERSION CHANNELS SURFACE WATER DIVERSION CHANNELS WILL BE CONSTRUCTED, WHICH WILL ASSURE THE WATER RUN-OFF FROM BLUE MOUNTAIN WILL BE DIVERTED AWAY FROM THE CINDER BANK AREA. DURING CONSTRUCTION OF THE REMEDIATION ACTION SURFACE WATER RUN-OFF FROM BLUE MOUNTAIN WILL BE DIVERTED THROUGH CHANNELS AWAY FROM THE CINDER BANK AND TO A TREATMENT SYSTEM IF WARRANTED. LEACHATE FROM THE CINDER BANK WILL BE COLLECTED BY CHANNELS AND DIVERTED TO THE TREATMENT SYSTEM. INITIALLY, LAGOONS IN COMPLIANCE WITH RCRA STANDARDS, WILL BE UTILIZED FOR THE TEMPORARY STORAGE OF COLLECTED SURFACE WATER.

STEP 3: CONSTRUCTION AND CAP A CAP CONSISTING OF A MINIMUM OF 18" OF SOILS AND 6" OF CLAY OR SOIL/BENTONITE MIXTURE WILL BE PLACED OVER THAT PORTION OF THE CINDER BANK CONTAINING WAELZ KILN RESIDUE TO PREVENT: 1) INFILTRATION LEACHING OF HEAVY METALS INTO THE GROUNDWATER; AND 2) SEEPS CONTAMINATED WITH HEAVY METALS FROM EXITING THE TOE OF THE CINDER BANK. A 2 FOOT SOIL COVER MAY BE PLACED OVER ALL OTHER PORTIONS OF THE CINDER BANK WHICH DO NOT CONTAIN RCRA LISTED WASTE. PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY REMEDIAL ALTERNATIVES, EPA AND PADER MUST BE IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT WITH THE REMEDIAL DESIGN.
STEP 4: VEGETATIVE COVER A STABILIZING VEGETATIVE COVER WILL BE APPLIED OVER THE CAP. THE COVER MAY BE COMPRISED OF A WASTEWATER TREATMENT SLUDGE/ FLYASH MIXTURE, OR CONVENTIONAL MULCHING, FERTILIZATION AND SEEDING. THE PURPOSE OF THE VEGETATIVE COVER WILL BE TO STABILIZE THE SLOPES, PREVENT EROSION, AND CONTROL SURFACE WATER MOVEMENT.

STEP 5: LONG-TERM ACTIVITIES AN INSPECTION, MONITORING, AND MAINTENANCE PLAN WILL BE IMPLEMENTED TO ASSURE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE REMEDY.
 
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