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DOUGLASSVILLE DISPOSAL SITE, Berks County - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed a $7.5 million "de minimis" settlement with 126 responsible parties to resolve liability at this hazardous waste Superfund site.
The settlement marks the completion of a series of administrative and legal rulings that began in 1985. EPA uses de minimis settlements so that all the parties who contributed hazardous waste to a Superfund site share in the clean-up cost. EPA has signed 35 de minimis settlements since its first in 1989. Currently, EPA is overseeing a feasibility study for a proposed lime-based cleanup method at the site.
The 50-acre Douglassville site in Union Township, Berks County was a waste oil refining facility that operated from 1941 to 1986. Included were a former tank farm with its processing equipment and storage tanks, several waste sludge lagoons and a one-acre pile of oily filter cake waste. Millions of gallons of waste oil sludge were disposed of in unlined lagoons by Berks Associates, the site operator. The heavy rains of Hurricane Agnes in 1972 caused the river to overflow and inundate the site. Six to eight million gallons of waste oil were released and carried downstream for approximately 15 miles.
The Douglassville Disposal Site is located along the southern bank of the Schuylkill River in a rural setting with cropland, uncultivated fields and light residential and industrial development. That segment of the river is used for recreational activities and as a source for municipal and industrial waters. The City of Pottstown, located about four miles downstream, has the closest municipal water intake from the river.