Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The BoRit Asbestos Site was used, from the early 1900s to the late 1960s, to dispose of asbestos-containing material (ACM) that came from a nearby asbestos products manufacturing plant. The site is divided into three parcels: An asbestos waste pile, a reservoir, and a closed park.
The asbestos waste pile, approximately 25-feet high, is on a six-acre piece of land owned by Kane-Core, Inc. The waste pile covers approximately two-and-a-half acres. The Reservoir is owned by the Wissahickon Waterfowl Preserve. The berm (walls) of the Reservoir is believed to be constructed of asbestos shingles, millboard and soil.
Asbestos product waste, such as piping and tiles, was visible surrounding the Reservoir and the stream banks. A closed, 11-acre park parcel is owned by Whitpain Township. This former disposal area was filled with asbestos wastes and eventually used as a park and playground. In the mid-1980s, the park was closed and fenced due to asbestos contamination.
The BoRit Site was added to the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) of the most hazardous waste sites on April 9, 2009, making it eligible for cleanup using federal Superfund program funding. EPA retains the right to pursue responsible parties for reimbusement of funds at all Superfund sites.
The Site is on the NPL for cleanup because the nearby residential population could potentially be exposed to airborne asbestos and to asbestos contamination in and along Tannery Run, Rose Valley Creek, and the Wissahickon Creek.
For more information about asbestos in the Ambler area, please visit EPA's Environmental Concerns of Communities around Ambler page.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

EPA's Removal Program has completed its work to remove any potential risk from asbestos contamination at the BoRit Site by capping all asbestos-containing materials throughout the 32-acre site. The Site consists of a 2-1/2-acre x 25-foot asbestos waste pile on a 6-acre parcel, an 11-acre pond (also known as the reservoir) within a 15-acre parcel, and an 11-acre former park parcel.

EPA completed stream bank stabilization on the following: The Wissahickon Creek, which runs along the perimeter of all parcels included in the site; the Tannery Run Creek, which runs alongside the pile parcel; and the Rose Valley Creek, which runs into Wissahickon Creek between the reservoir and park parcels.  Storm damage to the Rose Valley Creek stream bank stabilization measures, which was caused by extreme weather events in 2011, was repaired and streambeds and the base of the cap were fortified.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA has issued a Record of Decision (PDF) in July 2017 for the BoRit Site. The cleanup remedy incorporates the work that has already been completed at the Site by EPA's Removal Program. This work includes covering the asbestos-containing wastes, soils, and reservoir sediments with geotextile, and a minimum of two feet of clean material. The remedy will also require post-construction sampling, routine inspections, long term operations and maintenance, and land-use controls.  The post-construction sampling was performed from April to July 2018.  There were no exceedances of the human health remediation goals that were established in the 2017 Record of Decision.  Additional sampling will be performed annually for the next five years.


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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.

ICs are in place to prevent distrubing the cover of the caps in place. Additional information about the ICs is available in the 2018 Record of Decision (PDF) (ROD) (page 71).

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Sampling and Monitoring

The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was conducted from November 2009 through July 2017 to study the nature and extent of contamination, health risks, and potential cleanup options.

The first phase of Remedial Investigation started with field work, which included collecting surface water, sediment, soil, and waste samples. This field work started in the fall of 2009 and was completed in the winter of 2010. EPA sampled the pile, the reservoir, the park and the three creeks (Rose Valley Creek, Tannery Run, and Wissahickon Creek) that flow through the Site.

Various contaminants, including asbestos, were detected at the Site. A second sampling program (Phase II) began in October, 2010 and concluded in the summer 2011. EPA collected ambient air data throughout the community over a one-year period. EPA installed and sampled six groundwater monitoring wells. Additional soil samples were collected from on-site and off-site locations. Activity-based sampling (ABS), the process of collecting air samples from the breathing zone of field technicians engaged in realistic activities (e.g., raking, mowing,) that may disturb asbestos-contaminated sources, was conducted in the summer of 2011. Air sampling data demonstrated that there is no unacceptable risk from airborne asbestos in the surrounding community.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup activities, to date, have included removal actions (relatively short-term actions requiring minimal investigation) to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. The entire site, including the inside of the reservoir, was covered with a liner consisting of a geotextile which is covered by at least 2 feet of clean, vegetated soil.

Along the site slopes, the soil cover is packed into and over geocells which resemble honeycombs intended to fortify the slopes against erosion. The soil cover was hydro-seeded, and the seeding was covered with erosion mats that held the seeds in place to allow them time to sprout.

Along the waterways, the lower sections of the geocells were filled with stone and covered by rip rap (large stones) to protect the cap from swift-flowing storm currents and daily stream flows.  Where the walls of the reservoir (aka pond) were unstable, a geotextile impregnated with clay was used for extra stability.  Prior to installing the reservoir liner, the pond water was pumped and treated, on-site, to meet state regulations. It was then released into the Wissahickon Creek. The Removal Action was completed in September 2017.

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