Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Saegertown Industrial Area Site is located in Saegertown, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Saegertown is located approximately 25 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania. Four companies previously occupied the 100-acre industrial area site. Due to past operations at the LORD Corporation, an adhesives manufacturer; Saegertown Manufacturing Corporation (SMC), a steel components manufacturer; Spectrum Controls Incorporated (SCI), a ceramic manufacturer; and General American Transportation Company (GATX), a railroad car repair facility, soil, sediment and groundwater were contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing. The site was added to the Superfund program's National Priorities List (NPL) in February 1990. 

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

In 1980, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in a Saegertown municipal Water Authority well. Further testing identified soil and groundwater contamination around four areas: Saegertown Manufacturing Co., Spectrum Control, Inc., General American Transportation Corporation (GATX), and LORD Corporation.

In 1990, EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).

In January 1993, EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) (PDF) for the site selecting a remedial action for cleanup of the groundwater and soil contamination. No cleanup was necessary at either Saegertown Manufacturing Co. or Spectrum Control, Inc. portions of the site.

From 1995 to 1997, remedial action was completed by GATX on their property. Soil and sludge were excavated and removed from the property for off-site thermal treatment and resource recovery. The property was backfilled with clean soil, graded back to pre-existing contours, and seeded.

In October 1997, the former GATX property, as well as the two properties where no action was selected by the ROD, were deleted from the site and the National Priority List (NPL) and are acceptable for unlimited use and unlimited access.  This left the LORD Corporation property as the only remaining part of the site.

A 2002 Amendment to the ROD (PDF) was signed by EPA that modified the 1993 remedy for LORD Corporation to consist of enhanced biodegradation of contaminants in the groundwater, operation and maintenance of a residential well treatment unit, and institutional controls. Between 2003 and 2010, LORD Corporation conducted enhanced biodegradation through multiple injections of molasses into the groundwater through injection wells. The molasses is injected to stimulate growth of microbes that use contaminants as a source of food while they degrade the chlorinated VOCs in the groundwater. This remedy is an alternative to the pump and treat/vacuum extraction remedy originally chosen for the LORD Corporation to remove contaminated soil from source areas.

In 2007, EPA investigated and evaluated concerns of vapor intrusion. Vapor intrusion occurs when there is a migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building. Volatile chemicals can emit vapors that may migrate through subsurface soils and into indoor air spaces. Based on site conditions and data, there is no indication of vapor intrusion and it does not represent a threat to human health or the environment.

Significant reductions of VOC's in groundwater have occurred as a result of the enhanced bioremediation. In-situ molasses-solution injections were discontinued in December 2010 to allow the system to return to natural conditions so that the effectiveness of the injections can be evaluated. Currently, groundwater monitoring data is being assessed to determine if and when future molasses injections are necessary to achieve cleanup goals. 

EPA completed a survey of French Creek in 2012 to address potentially endangered mussels. Mussels were present in downstream areas of the stream, but there was no evidence of groundwater discharge. Based on the results of the field survey, it does not appear that the contaminants in groundwater are negatively impacting mussels in the area surveyed.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Quarterly groundwater sampling of one private well west of French Creek will continue. Similar monitoring at two other private wells west of French Creek was discontinued in 2017 due to the lack of detections of contamination over time. Only the residential well showing residual levels of contamination (vinyl chloride) is being monitored. There is a treatment system in place at this residential well which includes an aeration and carbon filter unit proven effective in removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to non-detectable concentrations well below drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels. The need for additional molasses injections will be assessed based on continued groundwater monitoring.   

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 2017 Five-Year Review (PDF) concluded that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment. Soil contamination has been removed, groundwater remediation and monitoring are ongoing and there is no exposure to groundwater contamination. The next five-year review is scheduled for 2022.

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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 are in place to restricts groundwater use. Additional information about the institutional controls are available in the 2017 Five-Year Review (PDF) (page 7-9).

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Enforcement Information

EPA signed separate Consent Orders with LORD Corporation in September 1993 and GATX in August 1994 for the cleanup of their current and former properties, respectively, at the site.

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