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WHITMOYER LABORATORIES, Jackson Township, Lebanon County -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with the Rohm and Haas Company and SmithKline Beecham, Inc., beat a deadline by completing cleanup work early at a Superfund site in Lebanon County. Excavation of the 15 lagoons at Whitmoyer Laboratories was completed almost three weeks ahead of EPA’s original schedule, developed last August. Approximately 18,000 tons of lagoon wastes have been sent, by 201 rail cards, to the U.S. Ecology treatment and disposal facility in Beatty, Nevada. More than half of the material excavated will require treatment prior to disposal. An estimated one million pounds of arsenic was removed from the site during this part of the cleanup.
Soluble arsenic wastes were placed in the lagoons during the 1960s. The site was composed of 17 buildings, 23 storage tanks, a concrete storage vault, waste pit, petroleum pipeline and pump station, and a railroad spur, in addition to the lagoons. Additional safety-control measures will be done this week, in preparation for a final inspection this month by EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Background: The Whitmoyer Laboratories site occupies 22 acres in a rapidly developing rural residential area. The company manufactured veterinary pharmaceuticals between 1934 and 1984, and produced and stored aniline and soluble arsenic compounds. The laboratory changed ownership several times: Rohm & Haas in 1964; Smith-Kline Beecham in 1978; and Stafford Laboratories in 1982. On- and off-site ground water and surface water, soil and sediments contain arsenic and volatile organic compounds from former disposal practices. Wastes in the concrete vault and lagoon are highly contaminated with arsenic and aniline. Health risks exist from drinking contaminated ground water. About 4,700 people use wells within three miles of the site, however, those residents whose wells are at risk have been connected to a public water supply. The closest home is within 200 feet, and l,300 people live within a one-mile radius.Tulpehocken Creek, proposed as part of Pennsylvania’s scenic river system, is adjacent to Whitmoyer Labs.