Southeastern PA

EPA feds: Capping of former Richland Twp. dump to begin mid-June

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will spend $9 million to cleanup and cap a former Richland Township landfill containing trace amounts of mercury according to one of the federal agency's remedial project managers. 

The agency reports work will begin next month.

According to EPA Remedial Project Manager Tim Gallagher, the former Watson Johnson Landfill shut down in the 1970's after accepting illegal, unregulated dumping of toxic chemical waste for nearly 20 years was listed on the EPA's top priority list in 2001 and investigated until 2004. 

The former Army Corps of Engineers project engineer offered an update to about 40 concerned residents at a public meeting Thursday evening at the James Michener Public Library in Quakertown.

He noted his agency in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded the multi-million dollar construction contract to CTI Associates of Novi, Mich. who will cap the landfill with a geotextile cover and drill and fill injection holes with a chemical called permanganate, a super oxidant used to eliminate chemical contaminants in groundwater.

Gallagher noted 20.4 acres of the 32-acre landfill site will be capped with the special liner followed by 18 inches of cover soil and six inches of topsoil to complete the project. He said the remediation plan details include reducing infiltration into the groundwater, prevention of water erosion runoff, preventing offsite contaminant migration, removal of mercury in surface soil, and the restoration of  soil and groundwater quality. 

Gallagher said the project will begin next month and its expected to be completed by December of 2018. He said up to four separate sets of well injections may be required with first done this month and the second scheduled for December this year. The final re-vegetation of the former landfill will be a meadow mix with a black spoke fence surrounding it, he said.

Accompanying Gallagher at the public update meeting were EPA Community Involvement Coordinators Alex Mandel and Gina Soscia, in addition to geologist Mark Leipert, available to answer questions.

The former Johnson farm, the landfill was found to be the site of toxic solvents dumping after it was discovered when the nearby Heather Valley Richland Farms was being purchased for development. It was formally investigated by the government between 2001 and 2006 and designated for capping in August 2009.

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