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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Hamilton Technology Incorporated in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

An Environmental Indicator (EI) inspection was conducted in November 2009 to determine whether human exposures to contamination and the migration of contaminated groundwater were under control. EPA/Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) is reviewing existing environmental information to determine if further investigation is required. EPA/State will focus first on the health and groundwater impacts, if any, presented by the facility. Once EPA/PADEP complete this review process, an environmental indicator determination will be prepared and posted to this website.

On September 19,2019,  EPA determined the  Environmental Indicator Migration of Contaminated Groundwater was under contro.l and on December 19, 2019,   EPA determined the  Environmental Indicator  Human Exposures was under control.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Hamilton Technology Incorporated, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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The Lancaster branch of Hamilton Watch Company opened in 1850 as a manufacturer of watches.  Potentially responsible parties (PRP) documentation indicates that Adams and Perry Watch Company was the owner/operator from 1887 to 1892, and Hamilton Watch Company was the owner/operator from 1892 until 1971, at which time Hamilton Watch Company began operating under the name of HMW Industries, Inc. (HMW).  HMW owned the Site until 1982.  In March 1971, a subsidiary of Hamilton Watch Company (Hamilton Technology Inc. [HTI]) was formed.  From 1972 through 1982, HTI leased 300,000 square feet of the Site from HMW.  HTI operated under government contract from 1972 to 1980, designing and manufacturing fuses and arming devices.  Documentation indicates that HTI operated an on‑Site wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), which discharged to the City of Lancaster Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). 

Sol Gillman purchased the Site from HMW on March 23, 1982.  The Site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 24, 1982.  In April 1983, a partnership consisting of Clock Towers Association, Ltd. and Karsan Group, Inc. purchased the Site from Sol Gillman.  The Facility was formally closed in 1983, and HMW became a subsidiary of Clabir Corporation (Clabir) along with Clabir’s other subsidiaries Flinchbaugh Products Division located in Red Lion, Pennsylvania and General Defense Corporation.  Prior to the 1983 closure of the Columbia Avenue Facility, six of the buildings (Buildings 1 and 2, and 4 through 7) were converted into the Clock Tower Apartments (Appendix B, Photographs 2, 4, 5, 11, and 12).  Some of the buildings, including the former WWTP (Building 3), the boiler house (Building 20), the oil solvent and storage house (Building 22), and the auto house (Building 23) were demolished during the 1983 renovations.  This is confirmed in a September 1984 PADEP inspection report which states that “all structures that were utilized for hazardous waste treatment and/or storage have been razed and removed from the Site. 

Buildings 9 and 11, previously used by HTI as warehouses for storage of raw materials such as 55-gallon drums of solvents, were converted into office space. 
In 1984, HMW and Flinchbaugh Products (a subsidiary of Clabir) sold 85 percent of its interest in HTI to General Defense.  In 1985, General Defense acquired the remaining 15 percent of HTI.  In 1988, Olin acquired General Defense, which later became the Olin Ordnance and Aerospace Division (OAD).  In 1989, Olin OAD sold the HTI subsidiary of General Defense to Bulova Systems and Instruments Corporation (Bulova) who was leasing 88,000 square feet of Buildings 9 and 11 for warehousing and intermittent operations. In 1997, Olin OAD spun off as a single publicly-traded company called Primex Technologies (Primex).  In 2001, General Dynamics Inc. bought Primex; and in 2002, the propulsion section of General Dynamics Inc. was sold to Aerojet-Gen, a subsidiary of GenCorp.  This sale did not include the former HTI section of General Dynamics Inc.  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings do not list Olin OAD as a subsidiary of General Dynamics. Currently, Buildings 9 and 11 are occupied by Eastern Alliance Insurance and are used as office space.  The New School of Lancaster occupies Building 8, and Clock Tower Apartments occupies Buildings 1,2,4,5,6, and 7. 

Research of the manufacturing processes conducted on-Site indicates that Hamilton Watch Company manufactured watches from 1850 through 1971.  After 1971, HTI, a subsidiary of Hamilton Watch Company, continued the manufacturing operation at the Site until 1983 when the Facility was formally closed.  The processes conducted on-Site included electroplating, coating, and polishing of metal parts. 

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Contaminants at this Facility

Process-related wastewater generated on-Site, which included electroplating sludge waste, reportedly was discharged directly to the City of Lancaster’s POTW under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit number 1020.  Waste solvents (primarily TCE) and oils from production were segregated in drums and shipped off-Site for disposal.  The Facility also operated an air scrubber, which was operated under Air Quality Permit number 36318093 issued by PADEP in 1979.  The permit apparently was not renewed after 1980.  Several production-related treatment and storage tanks and a 20,000-gallon heating oil underground storage tank (UST) also were located on-Site.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Institutional controls, if required, will be determined at the time of remedy selection.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

 The facility is being reused.

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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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