Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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Millcreek Dump, located adjacent to the Erie International Airport, was added to the National Priorities List (NPL) on September 21, 1984. The site was a former freshwater wetland that was used as a dump for foundry sands, solvents, waste oils, and other industrial and municipal wastes, resulting in the contamination of the soils, sediments and underlying groundwater. The site currently includes a capped landfill, freshwater wetland and flood retention basin, and a groundwater treatment plant and is in long term operation and maintenance.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the former waste disposal practices. Soil and sediments contained high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals. 

The 1986 Record of Decision (ROD) (PDF) and subsequent Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) selected a remedy that consisted an engineered cap on top of the former landfill (which was then contoured to allow a golf course to be installed on top), a flood retention basin, and the creation of eight acres of wetlands on property adjacent to the Site. The remedy also includes the extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater, which, after treatment, is discharged into Marshall Run, an adjacent stream that feeds into Lake Erie. Construction of the remedy was completed in September 2001. Since October 2007, the treatment plant has been operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).

An investigation in 2008-2010 determined that vapor intrusion was not a concern for this site.

In 2011, with EPA and PADEP approvals, Erie International Airport began construction activities to lengthen a runway, requiring an extension into the western portion of the site.  Construction of the runway extension included adding fill material to raise the cap and rerouting a local road around the extension. 

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The golf course that had been constructed on the landfill was closed in 2011 to accommodate the Erie International Airport runway extension. The airport runway extension was completed in 2012 and opened to air traffic in November 2012.

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. The most recent, 2016 Five-Year Review (PDF), concluded that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment in the short-term and would be fully protective when the extraction and treatment system is repaired and effective. The malfunctioning collection trench, part of the original extraction system, has been replaced by two individual groundwater collection wells. The new wells have been installed and are performing at the original design requirements. The Five-Year Review also recommended evaluating iron and manganese to determine if they are the result of background conditions. This determination is underway and is currently being pursued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  The next five-year review is scheduled for 2021. 

A determination of Site-Wide Ready for Anticipated Use (SWRAU) was made for this Site May 30, 2017.  The SWRAU designation means that all aspects of the Site cleanup are in place and have been achieved and no unacceptable risks are present.  It also means that all land use restrictions or other controls required as part of the cleanup are in place and that the Site is ready for reuse (or future use).

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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.

The Institutional Controls (ICs) at the Site were implemented by PADEP and Millcreek Township.  ICs at the Site to restrict residential use of the property and any activities that would adversely affect or interfere with the integrity and protectiveness of the 12-inch soil are addressed and implemented by an August 13, 2010 Consent Order and Agreement among PADEP, Millcreek Township and the Erie Regional Airport Authority (2010 Agreement).  The 2010 Agreement requires the Township to “operate and maintain the Township-owned parcels within the Site for public recreation and public benefit in perpetuity.”  The township cannot revise its inspection and maintenance obligations “except under express, prior written approval by the Department (PADEP)”.  

Millcreek Township also enforces an ordinance ensuring that contaminated groundwater is not used for potable purposes.  (Millcreek Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance 2006-9, Sections 9.03.1G and 1.8). While Millcreek Township is responsible for enforcement of this ordinance, EPA and PADEP conduct oversight of the Site to ensure that the ICs remain in place. EPA will continue to rely on ICs, as necessary, to prevent potential future consumptive use of the groundwater until groundwater is restored to drinking water standards.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup has also included several removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment.

In 1983, EPA built fences and gates across access roads, demolished sheds, crushed 600 clean, empty drums and sent them to a metals recycling facility, removed 100 drums of hazardous liquids, and stored 364 drums filled with non-hazardous material in the northeast corner of the site. In 1986, EPA also put up 1,820 feet of wire-mesh fence in eight locations to restrict access, installed a gate and posted warning signs.

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