United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Remacor (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania)

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1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Complex Materials
Location: West Pittsburg, PA
License No.: N/A
Docket No.:  
License Status: Decon

2.0 Site Status Summary

The Remacor facility (site) includes 45 acres bordering the Beaver River which is roughly half developed and the other half is a field with two ponds located on it. The site is located in Taylor Township, Lawrence County, near the junction of Route 168 and the Beaver River.

The site was a former facility that processed secondary magnesium scrap into magnesium powders and granules for use in the steel industry as a desulfurization agent. The facility also produced mischmetal which is also utilized as a desulfurization agent, and in the film making industry for special effects. Mischmetal is composed of various rare earth materials, and mischmetal production forms Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) as a waste product.

Records indicate that incendiary material was produced by Remacor for the Department of Defense that reportedly reacted violently when coming in contact with air or water. In the 1980's a significant quantity of this material was shipped back to the site from the Satellite/AMMET Incendiary site. No records of fate of the material are available. Reportedly, Remaloy 69 was routinely stored in specially built underground vaults to prevent it from coming in contact with air or water.

There are roughly 10 buildings onsite with most of the buildings having some structural integrity issues. The building to the west or front of the site is used by Taylor township municipal workers as an office area. There is also an “out-building” at the rear of the site near the river that is used by Taylor Township for equipment and materials storage. The remainder of the buildings were utilized by the former facility.

There are numerous radiological and non-radiological concerns at this site. The anodes from the former arc furnace used to produce mischmetal are known to be radioactive and buried onsite. Thorium-232, its progeny, Radium-226, and Cesium-137 have been detected onsite. Remaloy 69, magnesium, industrial solvents and lubricants, lead, and arsenic have all been detected onsite during previous cursory investigations. Based on the results of previous investigations, it appeared there were sufficient quantities of radioactive materials to require a license by NRC regulations. This site has never been licensed.

In August 2005, scrap magnesium materials caught fire at the site, destroying processing equipment. Since then, no scrap magnesium materials have been processed. However, the company continued to accept scrap magnesium materials until the court order required it to stop. Approximately three million pounds of scrap magnesium were being stored at the site.

Beginning in 2007 and continuing through 2008, the USEPA oversaw the removal of over 6.8 million pounds of magnesium material and other materials from the site. Samples collected by the USEPA and their consultant during an Extent of Contamination Study identified elevated concentrations of metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), in addition to elevated detections of gamma radiation and the presence of radioisotopes at various locations across the site. A subsurface investigation was not completed.

A radiological investigation was initiated in January 2010. Field activities included excavation of test pits, advancement of soil borings and installation of groundwater monitoring wells/piezometers. During these activities, soil and waste samples were collected. Groundwater, surface water and sediment samples were also collected. Samples of environmental media were selectively analyzed for radiological and a wide range of non-radiological hazardous substances. Geotechnical testing was performed on subsurface soil samples, and slug testing was completed to obtain estimates of aquifer properties. On-Site activities were concluded in June 2010.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues

The Remacor site is being investigated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Department) pursuant to the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA), Act 108, October 18, 1988. An environmental technical services company has been contracted to propose a plan to complete the characterization activities at the site.

A storm water drains survey was completed in September 2012. A total of almost 800 feet of 4-24" diameter storm pipes and drains were inspected. No radiation was detected on any of the inspections equipment or debris adhered to cameras. A Gamma Walkover Survey (GWS) was completed in May 2013. Percentage of coverage varied per survey unit with readings ranging from background to above 16X background in the most elevated areas.

Currently, the Department is in the process of reviewing a characterization plan for the site. The next phase of the characterization will include downhole gamma detection, subsurface soil sampling, groundwater well installation and monitoring, river sediment sampling, and characterization of the remaining materials onsite.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, February 20, 2014