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EPA Proposes Removing Superfund Designation from Part of Palmerton Zinc Pile Site

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EPA Proposes Removing Superfund Designation from Part of Palmerton Zinc Pile Site

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 1, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the deletion of 117 properties from the Community Soils portion of the Palmerton Zinc Pile Site, in Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, from the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).

“Deletion from the NPL is an important milestone because it signals that a portion of the cleanup is complete and that part of the site no longer poses a risk to human health and the environment,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The attention and focus that EPA has placed on the Superfund program is making a real difference in the lives of people living in communities near Superfund sites across the country.” 

The Palmerton Zinc Pile Site is the area of a former primary zinc smelting operation. The site encompasses the Borough of Palmerton and surrounding areas, Blue Mountain and a large smelting residue pile called the Cinder Bank.

The smelting operations at the site emitted huge quantities of heavy metals throughout the Lehigh Valley and the site was proposed to the NPL in December 1982 and formally added to the list in September 1983.

EPA is overseeing the cleanup of the Palmerton Zinc Pile Site, which is being carried out by the potentially responsible party (PRP), ViacomCBS Corporation. The site has been divided into four separate cleanups known as operable units or OUs. They include:

  • Blue Mountain (OU-1)

  • Cinder Bank (OU-2)

  • Community Soils (OU-3)

  • Groundwater, Surface Water and Ecological Risks (OU-4)

EPA has determined that all appropriate response actions for 117 properties of OU-3 have been completed, and no human or environmental health concerns remain, so these properties may be removed from the Superfund NPL.

During the Community Soils remediation, EPA worked with the PRP to develop plans to get access to the properties and begin soil sampling to determine if cleanup was necessary. EPA identified 2,410 properties as eligible for soil sampling. Of these, 1,701 properties were sampled, and analytical results found that 190 properties had lead concentrations greater than EPA’s cleanup standard and qualified for cleanup.

Of those 190 properties, 184 exterior soil clean-ups were completed where access was granted, and 117 properties were fully remediated which included excavation of exterior soils and removal of lead contaminated interior dust.

Comments on this proposed deletion must be submitted to EPA on or before December 21, 2020.

For more information on how to submit comments:

 More information on EPA’s efforts at the site: