Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The 7.3-acre Ryeland Road Arsenic site is located in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The site consists of five parcels of land. Four of the parcels are on the north side of West Ryeland Road, where Standard Chemical Works Corporation (SCWC) and Allegheny Chemical Corporation (ACC) made pesticides, fungicides, paints and varnishes, and disposed of waste. Private residences were located on these four parcels. The fifth parcel is a vacant lot on the south side of West Ryeland Road, where SCWC and ACC disposed of waste. Past operations contaminated soil and groundwater with arsenic, lead and other chemicals. Investigations and cleanup activities at the site are ongoing. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 2004.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) (PDF) in January 2006 selecting the remedy to address the elevated arsenic and lead in residential soils and downstream sediments. EPA began excavating contaminated soil from the vacant lot in the late summer of 2006 and completed the permanent relocation of three residences by the end of 2006. Excavation of the vacant lot continued throughout the winter and was completed in the spring of 2007. EPA also removed the contaminated brick piles from nearby properties and demolished the three vacated homes in the spring of 2007. Excavation of the contaminated soil from the relocated residences and adjacent properties on the north side of Ryeland Road began in the summer of 2007 and was completed in July 2009. All excavated soils were disposed of in off-site permitted landfills; hazardous soils were stabilized before disposal. Excavation of contaminated sediments began in the fall of 2008 and was completed in February 2009. Residential properties affected by the clean-up were restored.

A Pilot Study to determine the effectiveness of arsenic uptake by ferns was initiated in May 2007 and was found to be a successful method to reduce arsenic in shallow soils and areas saturated by springs. Phytoremediation efforts have been ongoing since 2009, and soil sample results have shown the ferns are successfully removing arsenic from the soil. To date, over 30% of the area where arsenic contamination once existed along the stream has been cleaned up using the ferns. A number of additional wells were recently installed to provide a better understanding of contamination present in the groundwater. EPA has completed nine rounds of sampling, and is in the initial stages of evaluating potential remedial options to clean up the groundwater. EPA has transferred four parcels of property to Heidelberg Township. The parcels included the areas referred to as the Northern Source Area and Southern Source Area, and made up the Site proper. Soil contamination at the parcels has been remediated.


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What Is the Current Site Status?

The long-term remedy for contaminated soil, sediment and waste, referred to by EPA as operable unit 1 (OU-1), included permanent relocation of three families, excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil, sediment and brick piles, restoration of a wetland area, phytoremediation of contaminated sediments, and institutional controls. All work except for phytoremediation began in 2006 and finished in 2009.

Phytoremediation efforts began in 2009 and are ongoing.

A remedial investigation/feasibility study to investigate site groundwater (OU-2) is in progress.


EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the Site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by Site decision documents. The most recent, 2016 Five-Year Review (PDF), concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and the site is protective of human health and the environment in the short term. Continued protectiveness of the OU-1 remedy requires additional sediment sampling in the spring-fed creek and Veterans of Foreign Wars park. The next five-year review is scheduled for 2021. 

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

Institutional controls are in placed to restrict groundwater and land use. Additional information about the institutional controls are available in the 2016 Five-Year Review (PDF) (pages 22-23).

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup has also included removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. In August 1985, EPA started a removal action to excavate and dispose of 2,400 cubic yards of arsenic- and lead-contaminated waste material. EPA removed contaminated soil from three residential properties north of West Ryeland Road. In July 2001, EPA removed an additional 4,470 tons of contaminated soil off site for disposal. In 2002, two feet of contaminated soil was excavated and replaced with clean fill on three properties north of West Ryeland Road.

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