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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Handy and Harman Tube Company Incorporated in Norristown, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

An Environmental Indicator (EI) inspection was conducted in 2006 to determine if human exposures to contamination and the migration of contaminated groundwater were under control. Based on this inspection and several investigations and remedial actions to date, in February 2020 EPA determined that both human exposures to remaining contamination and migration of contaminated groundwater were under control.

Cleanup Background

Trichloroethene (TCE) impacts to the bedrock aquifer were first discovered in 1979. A groundwater pump-and-treat system began operating in 1982, has been expanded throughout the years, and continues to operate to treat contaminated groundwater and limit plume migration.

A two-phase vacuum extraction (TPVE) system was installed beneath the facility building in 2007 to remediate shallow groundwater and soil vapor beneath the degreaser tank pit and was expanded in 2018 to remediate shallow groundwater and soil vapor beneath and downgradient of the parking lot to the north of the facility.

In 2007 the facility submitted a notice of intent to remediate under the Act 2 Statewide Health Standard to PADEP. The facility entered EPA and PADEP’s One Cleanup Program in 2014.

A Site Characterization Report was submitted in January 2012 that summarized previous investigations, characterizations, and remedial actions at 11 Areas of Concern (AOCs). The report also included receptor and exposure analyses and a proposed cleanup plan for remaining contamination. As a result, the facility installed a shallow groundwater collection system in the parking lot area in 2012.

Additional groundwater monitoring wells, piezometers, and soil vapor points have been installed to delineate the extent of the contaminated groundwater plume and assess potential vapor intrusion into a nearby residence on the eastern corner of Township Line Road and Whitehall Road. In 2019, the facility refurbished the basement of this residence and installed a vapor mitigation system to ensure that potential vapor intrusion impacts to the residence from the plume of contaminated groundwater were eliminated.

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Site Description

Interactive map of Handy & Harman Tube Company Incorporated, Lancaster, PA

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The facility is located at the intersection of Township Line Road and Whitehall Road in East Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Properties to the north and east of the facility are commercial, while most of the properties to the west and south of the facility are residential. Stony Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River, runs approximately 500 feet to the northwest and 3,000 feet to the southeast of the facility. Stony Creek empties into the Schuylkill River about five miles downstream of the facility.

The facility began operations in 1948 and was acquired by Handy & Harman in 1958. During operations, the facility manufactured small-diameter stainless steel, nickel alloy, carbon, and low-alloy steel tubing for use in medical and pharmaceutical applications, instrumentation, aircraft and automotive hydraulic lines, and appliances. The operations that occurred during manufacturing were cold drawing, degreasing, annealing, and pickling of the steel tubing. The degreasing process involved trichloroethylene (TCE) solvent and the cold drawing process used chlorinated drawing compounds. The facility was considered a major facility as defined in 25 PA Code § 121.1, because the facility exceeded the emission limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and TCE. Facility operations were discontinued in 2006.

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Contaminants at this Facility

Primary contaminants at the facility include TCE from past degreasing operations and its degradation products dichloroethenes and vinyl chloride.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Anticipated institutional controls include restricting land use to non-residential uses only, prohibiting groundwater use beneath the facility, and restricting building construction without additional vapor intrusion investigation or approval from EPA.

Anticipated engineering controls include development of a plan to address any future intrusive activities within the contaminated groundwater plume that have the potential to contact groundwater, and continued operation and maintenance of the groundwater remediation systems and the groundwater monitoring well network.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The facility is presently vacant/unused.

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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 with assistance from PA DEP.

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