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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Copperhead Chemical Company Incorporated (Formerly: ICI Explosives) in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

After prior removals of hazardous wastes and contaminated soils and several groundwater investigations at the former ICI Explosives USA Inc. facility, the final remedy is complete and consists of institutional controls to eliminate exposures to any contamination remaining on-site. These controls require deed notices barring residential or residential-type land uses of the Facility property and prohibiting groundwater use.

The Facility received a release of liability from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) through Pennsylvania's Act 2 program for two of the four parcels at this site, in September 1998, and January 2002. The other two parcels did not seek release of liability under Act 2. EPA's Final Decision of Corrective Action Complete with Controls for the Facility became effective September 28, 2007.

EPA issued a Final Decision on September 28, 2007, requiring only "no potable groundwater uses" and "non-residential land use" language in the deed. This requirement was previously implemented. No further corrective action was required.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Copperhead Chemical Company, Incorporated, Tamaqua, Pennsylvania

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The Tamaqua plant was originally built in 1906 by the Potts Powder Company to produce dynamite and blasting powders. Atlas Powder ("Atlas") was formed in 1912 as a result of an antitrust suit by the United States against E. I. du Pont de Nemours Powder Company that forced the breakup of du Pont's explosive business into three companies: DuPont, Hercules Powder and Atlas. Atlas bought the Potts Powder Company in 1912 and expanded the Tamaqua plant to make all grades of dynamite and detonators. The Tamaqua facility is sometimes called the Reynolds facility.

Atlas Powder changed its name to Atlas Chemical Industries Inc. in 1961.  In 1971, Atlas was merged into Imperial Chemical Industries and became ICI America. However, due to antitrust objections to the merger raised by the United States, ICI America sold part of the Tamaqua facility in 1973, approximately 2620 acres, consisting of the dynamite, nitroglycerin, and blasting supplies businesses, to Tyler Industries, which formed a “new” Atlas Powder Company. The remaining assets at Tamaqua, approximately 103 acres, comprised a portion of the Aerospace Components Division, a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries, and did business as ICI America (the name change to ICI Americas occurred in 1977) or ICIA herein.

Imperial Chemical Industries PLC Group repurchased the explosives business from Tyler in 1990 and established it as a wholly owned subsidiary, ICI Explosives USA, Inc. or EUSA herein.  In 2001, ICI Explosives USA Inc. changed its name to E-One Holdings and transferred its assets, including the Tamaqua property, into a newly created subsidiary known as Expert Management, Inc. (EMI).  In 2003, ICIA was also consolidated under EMI.  The total plant property for Tamaqua was about 2,741 acres.

The ICIA and EUSA operations at Tamaqua ceased between 1996 and 1998.   In order to expedite investigation, clean-up and potential resale of the property, EUSA was divided into four parcels: Corona, Wakefield, Project Riverdale and an unnamed clean parcel that had not been impacted by industrial activity.  The ICIA property is known as Project Woodlawn throughout the document submissions.  All of the property has been sold or transferred to other parties as follows:

About 227 acres, the “Wakefield” area (formerly EUSA), was sold to Copperhead Chemical on January 4, 1999.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The risk assessment for Wakefield showed that none of the Constituents of Interest were at a level of concern for non-residential uses of the property.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    Institutional /Engineering Control Summary
    Restrictions or Controls that Address: Yes No
    Groundwater Use
    Residential Use
    Vapor Intrusion
    Capped Area(s)
    Other Engineering Controls
    Other Restrictions

    Institutional Controls restrict groundwater use to non-potable and non-agriculture uses and also land use to non-residential use for the entire facility.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    The site's future use is yet to be determined.

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    Site Responsibility at this Facility

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 3.

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