EPA Removes Butler Mine Tunnel from List of Nation’s Most Contaminated Sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has…

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has deleted the Butler Mine Tunnel in Pittston Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, from the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is a list of the nation’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites.

EPA deletes sites or parts of sites from the NPL when no further cleanup is required to protect human health or the environment. Years, and sometimes decades, of complex investigation and cleanup work, have gone into getting these sites to the point where they can be deleted from the NPL.

“Deleting sites from the NPL is a major milestone for Superfund impacted communities,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Acting Regional Administrator Diana Esher. “An NPL deletion signals that cleanup is complete and the site no longer poses a threat to public health and the environment.”

EPA published a Federal Register Notice on May 14, proposing to delete the Butler Mine tunnel site from the NPL and establishing a 30-day public comment period during which the agency did not receive any significant adverse comments.

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The Butler Mine Tunnel Site was created by the illegal disposal of oily waste into abandoned underground coal mines during the late 1970s. Waste oil was discharged from the mines in 1979, and again in 1985, following heavy rains associated with Hurricane Gloria. In each case, waste oil is discharged from the mines into the Susquehanna River via the Butler Mine Tunnel.

The EPA response to the discharges included:
  • Establishing an Administrative Center to monitor the site.
  • Responding to flush-outs with construction and equipment.
  • Closing boreholes.
  • Developing an operations and maintenance plan.
  • Encouraging more responsible disposal of waste through a community education program.

Based on monitoring data collected, further oil flush outs associated with the original disposal activities are not expected. The EPA response at the Butler Mine Tunnel is now complete and as a result, the Site has been deleted from the NPL.

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