EPA proposes adding Berks County site to Superfund National Priorities List

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add the area surrounding the former Exide Technologies Laureldale facility to the Superfund National Priorities List on September 7. The NPL is the list of hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for cleanup, financed under the federal Superfund Program.

“Adding sites to the National Priorities List is the best and quickest way to bring the necessary attention and resources to these areas,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “With each new site added, we continue to invest in the America we all deserve – one with clean soil, air, and water.”

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Historic emissions from lead-acid battery manufacturing and recycling, primarily in years prior to the installation of emission control systems at the Exide facility, caused the deposition of lead and other contaminants in the surrounding area including surface soils on commercial and residential properties, water bodies and sediments.

Following Exide Technologies’ 2020 bankruptcy, EPA stepped in to remove hazardous substances remaining on the facility to mitigate immediate threats posed to public health and welfare.

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In 2022, the Agency expanded its work to include decontamination of additional process equipment, containers, and other highly contaminated areas as well as taking over operations of on-site wastewater and storm water treatment systems to ensure that water released from the facility meets appropriate standards.

Because contamination from the former Exide facility also impacted surrounding residential and commercial properties, the site qualifies for the Superfund NPL so that the contamination can be further assessed and remediated.

The first step in the NPL process is a formal proposal to the NPL, followed by a 60-day public comment period from Sep. 7 to Nov. 6. During this time, EPA will hold two public information sessions, one virtual on October 4 and the other in-person in the community on September 28. Upon completion of the comment period and review of the public comments, EPA will determine whether to officially list the site to the NPL. A final decision would be expected for Spring 2024.

The proposed NPL site does not include the Exide facility itself. Future cleanup of remaining contamination at the former Exide facility will be overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in coordination with EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program.

For more details on the public information sessions and how to submit comments, visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/exide-laureldale.

Background on Superfund and the National Priorities List

Nationwide, thousands of contaminated sites, from landfills to processing plants to manufacturing facilities, exist due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law accelerates EPA’s work to clean up this pollution with a $3.5 billion investment in the Superfund Remedial Program. This historic investment strengthens EPA’s ability to tackle threats to human health and the environment at Superfund National Priorities List sites. The law also reinstates the Superfund chemical excise taxes, making it one of the largest investments in American history to address legacy pollution.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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