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Removal response actions were conducted in two phases from September 2013 through October 2016 by EPA and by potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under EPA oversight. In December 2016, EPA certified that the goals of the action memoranda were met and the removal action was complete. No further updates on removal actions will be provided on this website. Future evaluations and actions will be conducted through EPA's Remedial Program.
The Metro Container Corporation Superfund Site is located in an industrialized area in Trainer, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The property on which the main portion of the Site is located is adjacent to Stoney Creek (historically Middle Run or Stony Run), a tidal tributary to the Delaware River, and abuts a petroleum refinery, a scrap metal yard, a railroad yard, a water treatment plant and residential properties.
Through the middle part of the 18th century, the property and surrounding land was granted, deeded, or sold to a series of owners, although no evidence exists that industrial development had occurred. In 1871, the Chester & Delaware Railroad was incorporated and by 1874 had constructed a rail line in the vicinity and parallel to Front Street, which abuts the southern boundary of the present-day Metro property. Maps dated 1875 indicate the property and some nearby properties were owned by the Chester Improvement Company. In 1881, Delaware Oil Works constructed a facility at the property to refine petroleum products into heavy lubricating oils and paraffin wax. Fires at the facility in 1886 and 1896 destroyed most or all of the refining operations, and both times the operations were rebuilt. By 1909, the property was owned by Manufacturers Parrafine Company. Limited information has been identified regarding this owner. It is unknown whether the company name merely changed or if a transfer in ownership occurred, although the process structures visible on maps from this period suggest the new facility continued to refine petroleum products into lubricating oils and wax. Furthermore, process maps indicate that the infrastructure present in 1909 was constructed in different areas than in 1891, presumably due to new construction after one or both of the two known fires in this era. Manufacturers Parrafine Company continued to operate at the property through at least 1917.
By 1920, Stauffer Chemical Company had purchased the property and constructed an entirely new infrastructure at the property in order to manufacture carbon disulfide from sulfur and charcoal. The party that dismantled the previous infrastructure and how it occurred is unknown. Stauffer constructed the 40,000-square-foot, multiple-story, brick and steel frame building still present today. Stuaffer ceased operations and vacated the property in 1959. From 1963 until 1988, a series of owners, including Joseph A. Reis Company, Universal Container Corporation, and Metro Container Corporation conducted drum reconditioning operations.
EPA initiated a removal response action in 1988 to mitigate off-site migration of contaminants from the Site. Drum reconditioning operations were shut down, and hazardous wastes were controlled, categorized, and shipped for off-site disposal. Pursuant to an Administrative Order on Consent, several responsible parties assumed completion of the removal action in 1989 and 1990. In July 1990, EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and NEIC conducted an investigation of the Site and uncovered more drums and drum remnants. These were removed in September 1990.
The property is currently owned by Trainer Industries and operated by Service Painting, an industrial painting company that conducts on- and off-site sandblasting and painting. The open area west of the main building (the 40,000-square-foot structure) is currently used for sandblasting of pipes and vessels prior to repainting. Historic records indicate a "pond" that was possibly a natural or man-made inlet connected to Stoney Creek and influenced by tides from the Delaware River less than an acre in size existed in this area in the early 1900s and perhaps earlier. The area west and northwest of the main building appears to have been the locale of backfilling with construction debris and waste products from past operators.
In 2005, a Phase I/II assessment of soil, sediment (in Stoney Creek), and ground water was conducted at the property by a prospective purchaser. This investigation found volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals in ground water. Several seeps were found on the embankment of Stoney Creek. Based on the results of the Phase I/II assessment, PADEP asked the EPA Removal Program to conduct a removal assessment to determine the need to implement a removal action to mitigate potential threats to human health, welfare and the environment. Removal site evaluations were conducted in 2007, 2009, and 2013.
The Site was added to the National Priorities List (NPL) on March 15, 2012. Additional information regarding the Remedial Program progress can be found at the EPA NPL webpage for the Metro Container Corporation Site. On August 26, 2013, an action memorandum was signed and a time-critical removal action was initiated by EPA. The goals of the removal action were to identify and remove underground source areas, such as contaminated soils associated with a former concrete basin, a former impoundment (lagoon), crushed and buried drums, and areas of soil contaminated with PCBs above 50 parts per million. Numerous pipe systems associated with historic operations were identified and removed where possible. Several pipe systems were found to extend beneath the main building and could not be thoroughly inspected or removed. Consequently, EPA developed a plan to address the additional pipe systems, and on February 24, 2015, signed a modification of the August 26, 2013 action memorandum. POLREP #86, found in the "Documents" section on this web page, summarizes the findings of the work.
On August 27, 2015, EPA entered a settlement agreement with a group of 12 PRPs to perform the remainder of the removal action. Investigative and planning began in 2015 and continued until mid-2016. The second phase of the removal action began in July 2016 and was completed in October 2016. The early part of this phase included construction of a temporary pole building to permit the property owner to continue business operations and demolition of the former Main Building and several associated annexes. Since no evidence was identified that sources or significant source material existed under the building identified during the action as the Large Annex, the structure was not demolished. Sources removed during this phase of the removal action included contaminated soils found under the Former Lid Room and the trench in the Main Building, Pipes MM, NN, and PP, and several previously unidentified pipes and pipe systems found under and in close proximity to the Main Building during the removal of these sources. An estimated 838 tons of non-TSCA waste, 526 tons of TSCA waste, 248 tons of scrap metal, 99 tons of asbestos-containing materials, and 11,900 gallons of non-hazardous waste water was removed from the Site during this phase of the removal action.