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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: ICI Americas Incorporated in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

On September 28, 2007, EPA made a determination of "Corrective Action Complete with Controls" for the ICI Americas Inc. facility. With this, EPA has determined that no further corrective action under EPA is necessary at this time. Land-use control measures are in place in the deed to ensure the land use and groundwater use restrictions at the facility, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP)-administered groundwater monitoring program at ICI Americas, Inc. remains effective.

In September 2001, and October 2005 respectively, EPA determined that the Human Health Exposures Under Control and the Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Environmental Indicators had been met. These Environmental Indicator evaluations took into account the soils investigation and removal, and the facility's intention to restrict the future use of the land to non-residential scenarios only, and the groundwater to non-potable uses. The facility has included land-use restrictions within the deed in the sale of the property.

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Site Description

Interactive map of ICI Americas Incorporated, Tamaqua, PA

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This site property has been used for explosives manufacturing since the early part of the 1900's. Part of the property started out as the Potts Powder Company in 1907 supporting the coal industry in the region. It was purchased by the Atlas Powder Company in 1913 and eventually evolved as ICI Americas Inc. In 1973, ICI divested its holdings in Atlas Powder Company but retained this portion of the property and operated it under the ICI Americas Inc. name. In 1990, ICI repurchased the property it divested in 1973, but continued to operate this property as a separate entity producing ordnance for military applications and air-bag initiators for the automotive safety industry. In 1998, the company ceased operations completely and proceeded to sell it.

Bella Terra Farms LLC purchased this 110-acre site in December 2004. At that time, ICI had investigated and completed active remediation at this parcel. Historic waste disposal and burning occurred at this property and groundwater has been impacted. Investigation began in the late 1980's, and a massive excavation and removal project (approximately 5000 tons of soils and waste in six weeks) was completed in 1999. EPA is reviewed investigation and remediation reports. Closure plans and certifications for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulated units were submitted to PADEP.

There was a PADEP-required groundwater pump and treat system at the property from 1996 to 1999. ICI started the systems operation in 1996 to remove trichloroethylene and related organic compounds from the groundwater. In October 1999, PADEP approved temporary shut-off of the pumping system to determine if: 1) the system is effective in containing the plume in the fractured bedrock, and 2) organic contaminants in the groundwater were being naturally biodegraded, as ICI has asserted. A final report on the temporary shut-off was submitted in January 2001 and was evaluated by EPA and PADEP. An upgraded monitoring network provided monthly data on the groundwater quality for one year. Subsequently, PADEP approved a reduced-frequency monitoring program for 2001 and 2002. ICI submitted a proposal for future Monitored Natural Attenuation based on the findings of the 2001/2002 monitoring program. The monitoring program has been approved by EPA and PADEP.

There is existing off-site groundwater contamination adjacent to the site. The owner of a former impacted potable-use groundwater well was supplied with a triple series carbon filtration system; bottled water had also been provided. There is no exposure to the current residents. ICI is continuing to monitor the off-site and on-site groundwater contamination to ensure that the plume does not grow or move, and that the natural biodegradation activities further reduce the toxicity of the contaminants. EPA and PADEP continue to oversee the plume dynamics.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary contaminants of concern at this site are: lead, mercury, arsenic, and volatile organic compounds, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), and percholoethylene.

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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 for the facility include:

  • Groundwater use restricted to only non-potable and non-agricultural use.
  • The facility shall only be used for non-residential purposes.
  • Proper handling and disposal practices are required for soil in according to the Pennsylvania Management of Fill Policy (25 PA. Code Chs. 271 & 287).
  • Expert Management Inc shall maintain groundwater monitoring wells in accordance with PA DEP Sept 17, 2003 letter.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The site is has unused and reused parcels of land.

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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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