Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The 52-acre Douglassville Disposal site is located in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. A waste oil recycling facility operated on site from 1941 to 1986. Beginning in 1941, site operators kept waste oil sludge in on-site lagoons. The contents of these lagoons washed into the Schuylkill River during flooding in 1970 and 1972. Additionally, site operators landfarmed sludge generated in the oil recycling process at the site. The operators stored about 700 drums, many leaking, at the site from 1979 to 1982. These activities contaminated site soil, sediment and groundwater.  EPA proposed the Site for listing on the Superfund Program's National Priorities List (NPL) in December 1982 and listed the Site on the NPL in September 1983. Following cleanup, groundwater monitoring and maintenance activities are ongoing.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

EPA dismantled the on-site tank farm and processing equipment, known as Operable Unit (OU)-1, from 1989 to1993. The remaining site soil and groundwater was addressed as OU-2.

In the first phase of the OU-2 cleanup, the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) built a soil cap over the former sludge disposal and landfarm areas in the northern portion of the site. The cap was completed in May 1993.

In the second phase of the OU-2 remediation, the large pile of oily filter cake wastes (estimated to have contained approximately 46,000 cubic yards) remained to be addressed, although EPA constructed a fence around the pile in 1996.

In 1996, the PRP submitted a proposal to treat the oily filter cake wastes on site using lime-based stabilization technology instead of thermal treatment. EPA evaluated the proposal and determined that lime-based stabilization could work. EPA amended its OU-2 Record of Decision (ROD) in 1999 to officially change the treatment method and a consent decree was signed by EPA and the PRPs and was lodged with the federal court on January 19, 2001. Actual on-site cleanup work under the consent decree started in June of 2001. Oily sludge and filter cake was stabiliized with lime and the treated material covered with three feet of soil. A pre-final inspection of the remedial action took place on June 12, 2002. EPA signed a Preliminary Close-Out Report on July 17, 2002. The final inspection of the cleanup was conducted in October 2002. The Final Report of the cleanup was approved by EPA on March 27, 2003.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site is currently in a maintenance mode.

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 2019 Five-Year Review (PDF) found that the OU-1 remedy at the Site is protective of human health and the environment because structures in the former processing facility/tank farm area have been adequately removed. The OU2 remedy at the Site is protective in the short term because there are currently no completed exposure pathways. However, in order for the remedy to be protective in the long term, certain follow-up actions need to be taken:

  • Prepare an Operation and Maintenance plan for long-term monitoring of groundwater;
  • Comple characterization of the nature and extent of Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (LNAPL) at the Site;
  • Continue monitoring groundwater in accordance with the 1989 Record of Decision.

The next five-year review is scheduled for 2024.

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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 have been placed on certain parcels on and near the site. The institutional controls restrict disturbance of the soil and soil cover; prohibit water well drilling; and prohibit residential land use.

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