Construction of waterline, $2.5 million penalty in Ivy Park agreement

Published: June 4, 2011

The companies responsible for contaminating groundwater in four Lackawanna County municipalities must install a waterline for as many as 500 homes and will be fined $2.5 million, the Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday.

The consent order and agreement with Bostik Inc. and Sandvik Inc. comes six years after officials discovered groundwater contaminated by volatile organic chemicals. The chemicals were traced back to the companies’ facilities in the Ivy Industrial Park in Scott and South Abington townships.

Since then, residents have fought for clean water.

The DEP has worked with Pennsylvania American Water Co. to develop the initial design of a large-scale waterline project in the investigated area, according to the DEP. Bostik and Sandvik will pay $20  million for the project.

The groundwater source will be outside the affected area, and 500 homes will be eligible to connect to the more than 21 miles of water mains. In the area, 218 homes already have carbon treatment units.

Homeowners who connect to the new system would need to abandon their existing wells to eliminate the effects of the contamination continuing to migrate in the geology of the area, according to the DEP.

“We believe this is what’s in the best interest of the community and the company,” said Ray Germann, a spokesman for Bostik.

Installation of the waterline should start next summer and should take nine to 12 months to complete, he said.

In a press release, Sandvik stated that it had worked with the DEP, local communities and other stakeholders to evaluate environmental conditions in the area.

“The company has been diligent in responding to the requests of regulators and the needs of the community during this period, and is pleased to resolve these issues in a productive manner through these agreements with the commonwealth. Sandvik will continue its efforts along with Pennsylvania DEP, Bostik, Inc. and Pennsylvania American Water Co. to establish a new water system for the community.”

The companies have also agreed to reimburse DEP $1.7 million for its investigatory costs through June 2010, along with all future costs related to the site. The agreement with the DEP did not address payments to individual property owners.

In 2005, officials discovered that groundwater near Ivy Industrial Park was contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE, and tetrachloroethylene, or PCE. TCE has been known to cause several types of cancer as well as neurotoxicity, developmental toxicity, liver toxicity and kidney toxicity if it is ingested or absorbed through the skin, according to reports issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The investigation, which included sampling more than 500 private wells, determined that levels of TCE and PCE from Bostik and Sandvik had impacted groundwater in parts of Scott, Abington (now Waverly), North Abington and South Abington townships.

A DEP spokeswoman said that Metso Paper USA Inc., another industrial park tenant, did not contribute to the contamination and will not be penalized.

The settlement will be discussed at a public meeting at the Lakeland High School auditorium on Wednesday, July 13, at 6:30 p.m. A 60-day public comment period begins today.

The consent order and agreement and the consent assessment of civil penalty are available for review at DEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilkes-Barre by calling 826-5472 to make an appointment. The documents are also available at the municipal buildings in Scott, Waverly, North Abington and South Abington townships.

Comments on the documents may be submitted in writing to Jeremy Miller, DEP Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program, 2 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701.

The documents are also available online at, by clicking on “Regional Resources,” then “Northeast Region.”

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