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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Cherokee Pharmaceuticals LLC (Formerly: Merck) in Riverside, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

In 1983 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) issued a Consent Order and Agreement to Merck to investigate and remediate groundwater contamination caused by the releases of various organic compounds from the former east end tank farm. The groundwater is contaminated with various organic compounds such as chloroform, benzene, methylene chloride, tetrahydrofuran, chlorobenzene, and 1,2-dichloroethane. The investigation concluded that the groundwater contamination migrated offsite and impacted some nearby residential wells. As a result, Merck connected the impacted residences to municipal water and installed a groundwater pump and treat system to control the migration of the groundwater contamination.

In conjunction with the PADEP Order and under the EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Correction Action Permit, Merck completed a comprehensive site-wide RCRA Facility Investigation in 1994 to further evaluate and identify areas of concerns that may have been impacted by the Facility's operations. The investigation identified three principal areas of concerns. These areas included the former east end tank farm area, the solvent recovery area, and Zone 5 of the old landfill. Subsequently and in 1998, Merck submitted the Corrective Measures Study that proposed a Final Remedy to address these areas. Merck completed the Final Remedy in 2008. The Facility will continue to monitor groundwater and maintain the remediation system.

As a matter of efficiency and practicality, in 2007, EPA issued a Corrective Action Permit Modification that combined the requirements of the PADEP Order and the original EPA Corrective Action Permit under one regulatory mechanism. As a result, the PADEP Consent Order was terminated.

In January 2008, Merck transferred ownership of the site and the RCRA HSWA Permit PAD003043353 to Cherokee Pharmaceuticals, LLC (Cherokee). Merck & Co., Inc. submitted a revised Part A Submission and the RCRA Part B Operating Permit PAD003043353 with the PADEP to reflect the change. The change in ownership does not require modifications to the existing hazardous waste activities or new hazardous waste activities. Cherokee is responsible for maintaining the corrective action implementation.

On January 21, 2009 , EPA determined corrective actions for the facility were complete with controls. Institutional Controls are for groundwater (maintaining pump and treatment system and monitoring) , protecting caps over former landfills, and limiting site use to non-residential use.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Cherokee Pharmaceuticals LLC, Riverside, Pennsylvania

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The facility consists of 175 acres and is located along the south bank of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River in Riverside, Northumberland County, PA. From 1942 to 1945, Heyden Chemical Company leased the site from the US Government to produce hexane for munitions during World War II. The site was unused from the end of World War II until 1950. From 1950 to 2008, Merck occupied the site. In 2008, Merck transferred ownership of the site and the RCRA HSWA Permit PAD003043353 to Cherokee. Currently, Cherokee produces various human-health and animal-health products that include antibiotics.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The main contaminants in the groundwater are 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, Trichloroethene, and Tetrachloroethene.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

     Institutional Controls are for groundwater (maintaining pump & treatment system and monitoring) , protecting caps over former landfills, and limiting site use to non-residential use.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    The facility is under continued use.

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    Site Responsibility at this Facility

    RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 3 with assistance from PA DEP.

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