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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC (Formerly: PH Glatfelter Company) in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

P. H. Glatfelter operates a bleached kraft fine paper mill in York County, Pennsylvania.  The 100-acre facility can be separated into two distinct areas, the Mill and the Impoundments, both located on the banks of Codorus Creek.

In April 2002, an Environmental Indicator (EI) inspection was conducted at this facility to determine if Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action is necessary.  In April 2004, EPA determined that the facility has met the standards for the Current Human Exposures Under Control Environmental Indicator.

This facility is currently an active industrial site.  Groundwater under this site will not be used for potable purposes.  The main contaminants of concern in Codorus Creek are low levels of copper and zinc and several poly aromatic hydrocarbons . 

Closure/Post Closure activities at the Impoundments are being conducted under the authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP).

Cleanup Background

All lagoons were taken out of active service by July 1997, in accordance with the Pennsylvania Residual Waste Regulations.  Currently, only closure and storage/transfer functions are performed in the area.  Eighteen of the nineteen sludge lagoons have been or are being stabilized and one is used for lime mud storage.

A number of site investigations involving sampling of groundwater, surface water, impoundment sludge and seeps from impoundments have been performed. 

Groundwater and surface water are the sources of drinking water for the residential areas within a four-mile radius of the site.  A number of off-site and on-site groundwater monitoring wells have been sampled since 1987.  Ten wells are currently used for groundwater quality assessment. Of particular note are the monitoring wells downgradient of the surface impoundments located along Codorus Creek.  These wells monitor the impacts the impoundments have to the  groundwater, and ultimately, Codorus Creek.  Generally they have shown little or no impact from the impoundments.

Analysis of samples from surface water and sediment from Codorus Creek and the unnamed tributary to Codorus Creek detected low levels of copper and zinc and several poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Subsequently, several fish tissue studies have been done determine concentrations of contaminants in the fish in Codorus Creek.  The studies indicate only low levels of contaminants in the fish, below any level of concern.

Surface run-off from the majority of the industrial sections of the site is diverted by a Muller Valve to the on-site Wastewater Treatment Plant, where it is treated before being released to Codorus Creek through an outfall.  All water released through facility’s outfalls must meet the water quality standards stated in the facility’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit.

The facility studied the sludges managed in the impoundments, to evaluate the potential risk posed by the leachates generated in the lagoons.  The concern was the potential risk of leaching constituents into the groundwater through the impoundments and into the surface water via seeps found at the impoundments.  Although some constituents of concern were detected in the leachates, all had levels well below action limits.

Mill Area
A number of historic releases to soils, have occurred on the site.  The facility has responded by upgrading its PPC plan as well as materials handling.  Additional investigation of subsurface soils may be necessary for final clean-up, but currently soils do not pose a contaminant exposure to off-site residents, or on-site workers.

The historic releases to the soils may have impacted the groundwater and further investigation will be required.  However, on-site workers and nearby residential areas are not exposed to the groundwater as the flow under the facility is toward Codorus Creek.

A number of small releases to Codorus Creek from the mill area have been recorded and some small fish kills have been noted.  For each instance repairs were made and appropriate changes in material handling were instituted.  Currently, material handling lines are regularly inspected.  Surface water quality data shows no evidence for concern for residential and recreational contact with the surface water and sediments.

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Site Description

Interactive map of Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC
(Formerly: PH Glatfelter Company) Spring Grove, PA

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P. H. Glatfelter operates a bleached kraft fine paper mill in York County, Pennsylvania.  The 100-acre facility can be separated into two distinct areas, the Mill and the Impoundments, both located on the banks of Codorus Creek.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The results of these investigations show that the residual waste impoundments do not pose a threat to human health.  Although the closed/closing impoundments have been shown to contain hazardous constituents in the impoundment sludge above direct contact recommended levels, only those involved with the closure activities would potentially have contact with those constituents, and these personnel , per Pennsylvania Residual Waste rules , have to have proper training to deal with sludge contaminants. Finally, facility’s industrial activities do not have an effect on the potable water supplies in the area.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

The need for institutional controls has yet to be determined.

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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 PADEP.

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