Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

SAFETY LIGHT CORPORATION
BLOOMSBURG, PA

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The 10-acre Safety Light Corporation (SLC) Site is located near Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Past activities at the Site include the manufacturing of self-illuminated watches and instrument dials, smoke detectors, neutron sources, exit signs and other merchandise containing radioactive materials. The Site includes buildings or structures and their contents, earthen lagoons, abandoned canal and former dump areas, contaminated with radioactive materials, such as radium-226, strontium-90, cesium-137 and tritium. 

In 2005, EPA added the SLC Site to the National Priorities List (NPL) making it eligible for federal cleanup funds under the Superfund program.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

  • From the 1940s to the 1960s, product manufacturing at the Site involved using several radioactive materials such as radium.  The facility was once owned by the U.S. Radium company.  After 1980, exit signs were the main products manufactured at the Site, which involved using tritium.
  • In 1981, the NRC conducted an environmental survey of the Site property, during which time monitoring wells were found to contain elevated levels of tritium and strontium-90. Elevated levels of radium-226, cesium-137 and strontium-90 were also found in surface and sub-surface soils. The NRC required Safety Light Corp. to begin remediating radiological waste disposed in the two underground silos.
  • In December 2001, EPA received a request from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to begin an assessment of environmental conditions at the Safety Light Corporation property.
  • Several sampling investigations and environmental assessments have been conducted at the Site, including many evaluations conducted by Safety Light Corp. for property characterization.
  • The Site includes buildings / structures and their contents, earthen lagoons, abandoned canal and former dump areas.
  • In 2005, EPA added the Site to the National Priorities List (NPL) of most hazardous waste sites in the country, making it eligible for federal cleanup funding.
  • EPA performed an environmental study, called a Remedial Investigation (RI) at the Site in three separate pieces, called Operable Units (OUs). OU-1 focuses primarily on buildings; OU-2 addresses the groundwater at the Site; and OU-3 addresses on-site soils, sediment and surface water.
  • EPA is using both its Removal Program (short-term cleanup) and Remedial Program (long-term cleanup) to address the contamination caused by previous on-site manufacturing and storage of radioactive materials.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The Site cleanup is divided into three separate units called Operable Units (OUs). OU-1 addresses on-site buildings and debris; OU-2 addresses on-site groundwater; and OU-3 addresses on-site soils, surface water and sediment.

On-site structures and related debris (OU-1):

  • Most of the field work for the environmental investigation of buildings at the Site was substantially completed in 2006 and the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) report for this OU has been completed.
  • Initial OU-1 work was performed under EPA's Removal Program. The cleanup plan to remove the most highly contaminated structures first is outlined in document called an Engineering Evaluation / Cost Analysis (EE/CA).
  • In 2010, EPA signed the OU-1 Record of Decision (ROD). This cleanup plan involves the demolition of both the radioactive and non-radioactive on-site structures remaining and removal of the debris to a properly licensed disposal facility. EPA continues to work with the NRC regarding proper disposal facilities and procedures.
  • Demolition and removal of debris related to OU-1 was completed in 2015 and documented in a Final Remedial Action Completion Report for OU-1.

On-site contaminated groundwater (OU-2):

  • Field work for the environmental investigation of groundwater continues.
  • In 2007, EPA installed three deep bedrock monitoring wells at the Site.  Throughout the following year, EPA collected groundwater data for analysis.
  • For comparison purposes, additional groundwater samples are being collected at remote, off-site locations to help determine regional background concentrations of radionuclides and metals.
  • EPA is currently preparing a Remedial Investigation (RI) report, using the groundwater data collected to date. 

On-site contaminated soils, surface water and sediment (OU-3):

  • In 2013, EPA's Removal Program identified and excavated soils from an adjacent property to address the migration of contamination from an on-site area known as the West Dump.  Approximately 25 yards of soil were excavated and incorporated back into the West Dump area.  Additional cleanup work on the West Dump include re-grading of the soil and installing an engineered cover and drainage controls to prevent further migration off-site.
  • In 2014, as part of the soils investigation, EPA tested for radiation levels at the "footprint" locations where the demolished structures once stood.  Additional on-site soil samples were collected as well as a few off-site soil samples, located on residential properties.
  • In July 2016, EPA finalized an Early Interim Record of Decision (ROD) for a portion of Operable Unit (OU) 3, involving former on-site dumping areas, called the East Dump Area, the West Dump Area, the East Lagoon and the West Lagoon. The cleanup plan is considered “interim” because it addresses only these specific areas of OU-3 and not the entire operable unit.  OU-3 to address contaminated soils in the West Dump, West La-goon, East Dump, and East Lagoon that are located in an abandoned canal within the 100-year floodplain on the Site.
  • In August 2017, EPA modified the remedy in the 2016 Early Interim ROD with an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to excavate an additional 998 cubic yards (total estimated volume) of radionuclide-contaminated soil/debris. Based a November 2016 removal assessment, additional areas within the abandoned canal and/or 100-year floodplain with radionuclide soil concentrations above soil risk-based screening levels (RSLs) were identified. 
  • EPA is continuing to develop a Remedial Investigation (RI) report using the soil/sediment/surface water data collected to date. 
  • EPA issued a 2nd Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) in September 2018 expanding and continuing the excavation of the contaminated soils within and immediately adjacent to the abandoned canal, up to and including the entire length of the canal on the Site, as necessary.
  • The remainder of OU-3 will be addressed by future response actions when the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) is complete. The final remedy will be documented in a final ROD.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Safety Light Corporation Site Removal Program

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Enforcement Information

In 2007, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order requiring physical security to the Site; on-site fire protection systems; utility services; and limited on-site maintenance, such as vegetation control and upkeep.

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