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Aircraft to help re-vegetate Appalachian Trail portion of Palmerton Zinc Superfund Site

Release Date: 03/11/2011
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

(PHILADELPHIA – March 11, 2011)The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the National Park Service, will oversee use of an aircraft to plant grass and other vegetation on a 500-acre section of the Palmerton Zinc Superfund site in Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Trail at the top of Blue Mountain.

This project is part of an ongoing action to repair environmental damage that was caused by emissions from zinc smelting operations in the Borough of Palmerton. Due to the steep and remote location, a modified crop dusting aircraft will be used to distribute a specific mixture of seed, lime and fertilizer on the property owned by the National Park Service and Pennsylvania State Game Land. Weather-permitting, work is scheduled to begin the week of March 14 and should take five to six weeks to complete.

“The re-vegetation of Blue Mountain marks another step forward in a lengthy clean-up process and helps restore a beautiful portion of Appalachian Trail with native grasses, plants and shrubs so that it blends in naturally with the Pennsylvania countryside,” said EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

“This step has been a long time coming and we are delighted to have this
remediation work getting underway,” said Pamela Underhill, Park Manager for
the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

During the planting, the public will see aircraft originating from the nearby Slatington, Pa. airport flying low over the top of Blue Mountain. This aerial reseeding technique was previously used to restore other sections of the mountain west and east of the Lehigh River. The mixture of seed used during this restoration is designed to foster the growth of warm season grasses, shrubs and trees native to the area.

The restoration work is being paid for by CBS Inc., formerly Viacom International, the party potentially responsible for the contamination. More information on the Palmerton site can be found on EPA’s website at: .