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River Commission OKs Continued Oxy Water Clean-Up

River Commission OKs Continued Oxy Water Clean-Up

The former OxyChem property on Armand Hammer Boulevard is now being marketed as the Tri-County Commerce Park

POTTSTOWN PA – A clean-up of ground water beneath land in Lower Pottsgrove, which last was the home of an Occidental Chemical Corp. plant that produced polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins used in plastic products, will be allowed to continue as the result of an administrative decision reached last month, The (Pottstown PA) Mercury newspaper reported Tuesday (April 1, 2014).

Reporter Evan Brandt wrote that the Delaware River Basin Commission during March gave its approval for the continuing scrubbing operation at the former Occidental site on the south end of Armand Hammer Boulevard at Industrial Highway. An Occidental subsidiary, Glenn Springs Holdings, runs the operation that pumps water from underground and then filters it to remove volatile organic compounds considered hazardous to human health.

The property has been listed as a federal Superfund environmental clean-up site since 1988.

Several original structures at the site have since been leveled and removed. The property is now marketed for lease as industrial storage and warehouse space, and enjoys a high occupancy rate, its property managers claim. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reconstruction of the Armand Hammer interchange at U.S. Route 422 is anticipated to increase access to the property and potentially enhance its value, they added.

Glenn Springs extracts up to 15.5 million gallons of ground water each month from 11 wells on the site, and cleans it through three separate filters. They help keep the compounds from spreading off-site onto adjacent properties and the Schuylkill River. The commission exercises oversight because the filtered water is emptied into the river, about five miles upstream of a drinking water intake system.

The new commission-authorized permit for Glenn Springs also allows it to use “three new vapor extraction wells … if needed,” Brandt wrote.

In addition to Occidental, the federal Environmental Protection Agency reports other manufacturers that disposed of industrial wastes at the 250-acre site since the early 1940s were Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company, which built engines there until late 1944; and Firestone Tire and Rubber, which made tires and PVC resins. Firestone sold the facility to Occidental in 1980; Occidental created resins there until 2005.

Between 1942 and 1985, according to the EPA, operators disposed of wastes that included cutting oils, metal filings, tires, and PVC sludge resins into a 17-acre solid waste landfill on the site. The landfill was expanded in 1977, and capped with a rubber cover and soil when its use was discontinued. A second landfill of seven acres was used and then similarly capped in 1998.

Two lined lagoons built in 1974 to hold PVC sludge overflows from the plant’s waste water treatment system were closed in 1995. The ground water extraction and treatment operation was installed during January 1999.

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