Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

LOWER DARBY CREEK AREA
DARBY TWP, PA

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Lower Darby Creek Area (LDCA) site is located in Darby Township and Folcroft Borough in Delaware and Philadelphia counties, Pennsylvania. The site consists of two separate landfills, the Clearview and Folcroft Landfills. The Clearview Landfill is on the east side of Darby Creek near the intersection of 84th and Lindbergh Boulevard. The Folcroft Landfill is located two miles downstream on the west side of Darby Creek and within the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Both landfills operated from the 1950s to the 1970s and closed in the mid-1970s. Wastes accepted at both landfills reportedly included municipal, demolition and hospital wastes. Waste disposal practices contaminated soil, groundwater and fish tissue with hazardous chemicals. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 2001. Cleanup work at the Clearview Landfill began in 2017. Investigations at the Folcroft Landfill are ongoing. The site is being cleaned up through federal, state and potentially responsible party actions.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

To facilitate the cleanup, the site has been separated into three operable units (OUs):

  • Clearview Landfill - OU1
  • Folcroft Landfill - OU2
  • Clearview Landfill Groundwater - OU3

Clearview Landfill - OU1:

From November 2011 to September 2012, EPA conducted a Time-Critical Removal Action near the Southern Industrial Area (SIA) portion of the landfill, to remove high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Almost 4,000 tons of PCB waste were excavated and shipped to another facility for disposal.

In 2014, EPA selected the final cleanup plan for the Clearview Landfill - OU1. OU1 includes the contaminated soil, waste and shallow leachate (liquid coming out of the landfill). The plan calls for constructing an evapotranspiration cover over about 50 acres to contain landfill waste and contaminants; excavating contaminated soils outside the cover and placing them under the evapotranspiration cover; and collecting and treating leachate.

In the Summer of 2015, EPA began designing the cleanup plan for the contaminated waste and soils at the Clearview Landfill. The design was completed in March 2019.

Between September 2016 and June 2017, EPA conducted an additional Time-Critical Removal Action on residential properties to remove soil contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that posed a health threat.  EPA cleaned up 33 residential properties and removed almost 3,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. After the Time-Critical Removal Action for the residential properties was completed, additional yards remained which required cleanup. These yards did not qualify for the Removal Action.

EPA began a new Superfund cleanup for OU1 in August 2017. This cleanup is referred to as the Remedial Action.

The first step of the OU1 cleanup was to continue addressing residential yards in the Eastwick neighborhood that have contaminated soil related to the Clearview Landfill. The residential yard cleanup project began in August 2017 and will likely be completed in 2020. As of April 2020, 162 residential property parcels have been cleaned up as part of this action. Approximately 15 parcels remain that require remediation.

The cleanup work on the Clearview Landfill began in March 2019 and is ongoing.

Folcroft Landfill - OU2:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the Folcroft Landfill, as it is part of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. EPA has a legal agreement with a group of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) requiring them to perform the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study.

In 2019, EPA approved the PRP Remedial Investigation Report (PDF) of the Folcroft Landfill. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the nature and extent of contamination. The data was also used to evaluate potential risks to the public and the environment. The PRPs, EPA, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) are using the results from this investigation to evaluate potential long-term cleanup options as part of the Feasibility Study, which is expected to be complete in 2021. 

EPA conducted sampling and has developed a baseline risk assessment for the aquatic portions of the site (sediment, surface water, fish tissue, turtle tissue) including areas within the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and Darby Creek.  All sampling for this assessment was completed between April and September 2012. The data from these sampling efforts is available. The final risk assessment report will be completed in 2020. 

Clearview Landfill Groundwater - OU3:

The contaminated groundwater (water present beneath the surface in soil) from the Clearview Landfill is considered to be OU3. EPA completed the Remedial Investigation (RI) report for OU3 in March 2019. Several areas of groundwater contamination were identified that extend to the east and south of the landfill as well as to the adjacent creeks.

It's important to note that residents are supplied public drinking water and are not drinking groundwater from this area.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Status of the Clearview Landfill - OU1:

The following work is being performed at the Clearview Landfill: the permanent relocation of businesses on the landfill, removal of contaminated soil from the City Park, construction of a new forested cover over the landfill waste, and stabilizing the streambanks. EPA will be capturing some of the contaminated groundwater from the landfill before it reaches the creek. This contaminated water will be treated in treatment wetlands. This work began in early 2019.

By the end of 2019, EPA and its contractors completed the first phase of construction and planting in the northern City Park and hillside of the landfill. The team planted about 5,000 trees and shrubs into the clean soil that was placed on top of the waste and contamination.

Status of the Folcroft Landfill - OU2:

The Feasibility Study for this landfill is underway and expected to be complete in 2021. The Study will evaluate cleanup options for the Folcroft Landfill and the related contaminated groundwater.

Status of the Clearview Landfill Groundwater - OU3:

EPA is currently conducting a Focused Feasibility Study to evaluate options to prevent further contamination from leaving the landfill boundary. This action will be taken first while additional options are considered in a separate Feasibility Study to address the areas of groundwater contamination already outside the landfill. The Focused Feasibility Study should be completed in early 2021.

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Emergency Response and Removal

In September 2011, EPA took an action to remove soils and wastes contaminated with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the southern portion of the Clearview Landfill. EPA took this action because the contaminants posed a risk to local workers on the site as well as Darby Creek. EPA completed this short-term action in September 2012.

Between September 2016 and June 2017, EPA conducted an additional Time-Critical Removal Action on residential properties to remove soil contaminated with PAHs that posed a health threat. EPA cleaned up 33 residential properties and removed almost 3,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil.

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Enforcement Information

Administrative Enforcement Documents for the Lower Darby Creek Area Superfund Site

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