Superfund Site Profile


The Palmerton Zinc Pile Site is the area of a former primary zinc smelting operation. The site encompasses the Borough of Palmerton and surrounding areas, Blue Mountain, a large smelting residue pile called the Cinder Bank and much of the valley. For nearly 70 years, the New Jersey Zinc Company deposited 33 million tons of slag at the site, creating a cinder bank that extends for 2 1/2 miles and measures over 100 feet high and 500 to 1,000 feet wide. The smelting operations emitted huge quantities of heavy metals throughout the valley. As a result, approximately 2,000 acres on Blue Mountain, which is adjacent to the former smelters, have been defoliated, leaving a barren mountain side. Soil on the defoliated area of the mountain has contaminated the rain water flowing across it. The runoff and erosion have carried contaminants into Aquashicola (spelled correctly here) Creek and the Lehigh River. Approximately 850 people live within one mile of the site; the population of the town of Palmerton is approximately 5,000. The Palmerton Water Company has four production wells at the foot of Blue Mountain that supply water to the towns of Palmerton and Aquashicola; these wells have not been effected by contaminants from the site to date. This site was proposed to the National Priority List (NPL) on December 30, 1982 and formally added to the list on September 8, 1983.