PaDEP Southcentral Region

Downtown Brownfields Site, Lebanon

Groundwater Sciences Corporation (GSC) was retained by the owner of a 6.5-acre property in downtown Lebanon to perform environmental due diligence activities during a property divestiture. The property has more than 100 years of mixed-use history. GSC conducted Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments that identified contamination of both soil and groundwater by more recent historical agro-chemical and petroleum operations on the property, as well as a thick layer of slag and coal tar related to older historical conditions. This identified contamination included the presence of separate-phase petroleum on the water table in the limestone bedrock, concentrations of naphthalene in soil up to 14% by weight, and groundwater plumes with highly elevated concentrations.

Following the discovery of the contamination, the property owner elected to enter the Land Recycling Program (Act 2) to seek relief from liability. Extensive remedial investigation activities were performed by GSC, including the collection of over 200 soil samples and multiple groundwater samples from each of the 17 monitoring wells installed on the property and on adjacent properties.

GSC screened multiple remedial alternatives, including commissioning of detailed geotechnical and engineering evaluations and reviewing of bench-scale chemistry tests of the historical fill material on the property. Based on these evaluations, large-scale remediation was found to be not feasible due to the low structural strength and extremely high iron content of the slag fill material. Separate-phase liquid removal was conducted at the site to the maximum extent practicable. Following the approval of a Remedial Investigation Report, the property was sold using a tri-lateral buy-sell agreement between the buyer, seller, and PaDEP. GSC assisted the seller in the sale of the property prior to the closure of the site and worked with the new owner to obtain relief from liability so that the property could be redeveloped.

Ultimately, a Relief from Liability was granted by the PaDEP using the Site-Specific Standard, contingent on identifying and removing complete and potential future complete exposure pathways. A complex Environmental Covenant was negotiated and is being used to provide a framework for redevelopment of the property. A major retail business is currently redeveloping about half of the property.