State of Pennsylvania

03/13/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/13/2019 16:49

DEP Releases Soil Sampling Results Regarding Lead Levels in Carbon County

Wilkes-Barre, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that soil samples taken at two locations in Palmerton, Carbon County showed exceedances of the state-wide health standards for metals. Results of samples taken at eight other locations came back below state-wide standards. The locations with exceedances are Palmerton Borough Park and West End Day Care, a private facility.

The sampling was done after a report issued last year by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) concluded a public health hazard is likely for young children and pregnant women living near the American Zinc Recycling facility in Palmerton.

The results indicated that one sample collected from West End Day Care found total lead, total cadmium, and total zinc levels exceeded the state-wide health standards; and two samples collected from Palmerton Borough Park found total lead and total cadmium levels exceeded the statewide health standards.

'The soil sampling results are a concern and DEP is committed to doing its part to protect the health of residents,' said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. 'DEP is working with the EPA and local officials on future plans to monitor and remediate lead levels in Palmerton.'

In October of 2018, representatives from DEP, ATSDR, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted both soil screening and soil sampling at ten separate locations in the borough. DEP utilized an X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) device for the soil screening, which is an X-ray instrument used for non-destructive chemical analyses of rocks, minerals, sediments, and fluids. A total of 141 XRF scans for lead, cadmium, chromium, zinc, nickel, and copper were completed at the properties. In addition, a total of 18 traditional soil samples were taken at the properties. The samples were sent to DEP's Bureau of Laboratories in Harrisburg for analysis of lead, cadmium, chromium, zinc, nickel, and copper.

The analysis of the XRF screening indicated, aside from the metal levels, a high level of moisture in the soil, which could have impacted those results.

Based on the XRF soil screening results and the surface soil sampling results, DEP is recommending additional sampling within and adjacent to Palmerton Borough Park and West End Day Care.

The results of the original soil sampling and screening were sent to property owners and DEP has discussed them with officials from Palmerton Borough and Palmerton School District.

MEDIA CONTACT: Colleen Connolly, 570-826-2035