Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The 258-acre Lackawanna Refuse site is located in an area previously used for deep mining and strip mining in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. In 1973, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) issued a permit to the site owner for the disposal of municipal and commercial waste in three strip-mine cuts, covering about 18 acres. Two of the strip-mine cuts contained commercial and municipal waste, and the third contained buried drums. PADER authorized an addendum for the disposal of sludge in 1978, but suspended the solid waste disposal permit later that year after discovering the unauthorized disposal of industrial and hazardous wastes. These activities contaminated sediment, groundwater and surface water with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing. EPA took the site off the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1999.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

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 review concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment in the short term. Continued protectiveness of the remedy requires addressing landfill cap maintenance, exceedances of maximum contaminant levels and freshwater screening levels, and reporting.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedy included removal and disposal of drums, highly contaminated municipal refuse, dried paint and contaminated soil at a hazardous waste landfill; construction of clay caps over remaining contaminated soil, sediment and debris; installation of a surface water drainage diversion; construction of a gas venting system through the clay caps; development of a monitoring plan; and operation and maintenance of the caps. Remedy construction took place between 1987 and 1991. The site poses no threat to the public health of the nearby residents or the environment. After construction and site studies were completed, the EPA issued a Close-Out Report (COR) in 1999, stating that no further work is necessary at the site.

After cleanup, EPA took the site off the NPL in 1999. Five Five-Year Reviews found that the remedy for the site remains protective of human health and the environment.  The next Five-Year Review will occur in 2019.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

In 1983, the owners and operators of the site pleaded guilty to failing to notify the EPA that hazardous substances were disposed at the site.  They paid a fine and agreed to use the proceeds from any sale of the land to help finance cleanup at the site. The following remedial actions were completed in accordance with EPA's Record of Decision (ROD): all drums and highly contaminated solid wastes were removed and approximately 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were excavated and disposed off-site. A leachate collection system and a synthetic cover were installed in 1989. The final grading and seeding of the site was completed in 1990. Subsequent to the placement of the synthetic cover, EPA's sampling showed that the landfill was generating a negligible amount of leachate due to the effectiveness of the synthetic cover in reducing rainfall infiltration to the landfill. EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD) on September 28, 1993 documenting EPA's decision to eliminate the leachate treatment plant due to insufficient leachate flow. The site was removed from the NPL in 1999. Five Five-Year Reviews found that the remedy for the site remains protective of human health and the environment.  The next Five-Year Review will occur in 2019.

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