The New Jersey Zinc Company was for many years the largest producer of zinc and zinc products in the United States. The company thrived in the period from 1897 to 1966, at which time it merged with Gulf and Western Industries. It continued to operate as a subsidiary of Gulf+Western until 1981, when a management-led buyout acquired it under the name of Horsehead Industries. The New Jersey Zinc Company remained a subsidiary of Horsehead Industries until 1987, when Horsehead merged it with St. Joe Minerals to form Zinc Corporation of America. The company suffered from worldwide record low prices for zinc in the early 2000's and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002. Sun Capital Partners purchased the company's assets in 2003 for $73.6 million and renamed it Horsehead Corporation which currently produces zinc products processed from recycling and steelmaking waste.
Sorry for the crappy "paint" job, this is the best i could do.....
Palmerton is currently the location of the Palmerton Zinc Superfund site. It was added to the National Priority List in 1983. The site is broken down into four Operable Units: the defoliated slope of Blue Mountain, the cinder banks, the soil in town, and the ground and surface water.
[size=150:2b95mdyi]Operable Unit #1[/size]
The EPA is requiring that the PRPs revegetate about 2,000 acres of Blue Mountain. The vegetation on the mountain was killed by air and soil contamination resulting from the historic smelting operations. So far, Horsehead has revegetated approximately 850 acres, and in October 2000, the EPA approved a Viacom preliminary design to revegetate an additional approximate 1,000 acres. The Viacom design is a different approach utilizing air drop applications of manure, fertilizer and seed to accomplish revegetation. The approval of the preliminary design was based on the outcome of 12 test plots, varying the amounts of grass, seed, fertilizer and manure. Two out of the 12 test plots were initially successful in growing grass, however, after continued montioring through Spring 2002 EPA determined that a second pilot test would be necessary to see if changes in the application process would provided better results. The second pilot test was implemented in Spring/Summer 2003. Those plots (56 total) were be monitored through 2005 and the various amendments have been shown to be successful in establishing vegetation, the remaining full scale revegetation of privately owned land will be done, with some modifications aimed at improving the design, on the formula used in the successful test plots. In April 2006 EPA approved a second preliminary design for revegetation of the non publicly owned land remaining. Work to apply amendments, fertilizer, lime and warm season grasses to over 200 acres via agricultural tractor and spreader and an additional approx. 200 acres via fixed wing crop-duster type aircraft was completed in September 2006. EPA is currently working with PADEP, PA Game Commission and National Park Service along with the responsible party to complete a design for the remaining denuded public land (approx. 1500 acres) along the Appalachian Trial on the top of Blue Mountain. Aerial Application of lime fertilizer and seed occurred in March/April 2008 via fixed wing crop-duster type aircraft on approx. 700 acres of PA game commission and NPS land. A design for the remaining acres is planned for Fall 2009 with road access and temporary AT trail realignment work to also begin in Spring 2010 followed by ground revegetation and additional aerial application work in Fall 2010.
[size=150:2b95mdyi]Operable Unit #2[/size]
Which is the clean-up of the Cinder Bank, Horsehead built a system to divert surface water around the Cinder Bank, treat contaminated leachate before it is discharged to the nearby Aquaschicola Creek and revegetate all but a portion of the Cinder Bank. This work was completed in the Fall of 2002. Monitoring of the treated discharge and revegetation is ongoing.
[size=150:2b95mdyi]Operable Unit #3[/size]
Which is the cleanup of residential soils throughout the Borough of Palmerton, and surrounding areas, the EPA on October 9, 2001 issued a final Record of Decision, or final clean up plan for the contaminated residential soils. EPA worked with Viacom to develop plans to begin the soliciation for sampling and actual exterior soil sampling to determine if clean-up were necessary. The first phase of the soliciation and sampling began in the Fall 2002. Approximately 800 properties were sampled before winter conditions set in. Of the properties sampled in Fall 2002 approximately 13% were found to have levels of lead above EPA's clean-up standards. The second phase of solicitation began in June 2003. A total of 2,400 property owners have been contacted for permission to be sampled. Over 1500 properties were sampled. Approximately, 180 properties were eligible for soil cleanup. Soil cleanups were completed in the Fall 2004 with minimal follow-up work on some properties in 2005. Interior Dust sampling began in 2004 on properties where soil cleanup was completed. Initial clean-ups of eligible properties began in late September 2004. A total of 20 interiors which required clean-up were completed by Summer 2005. Work for this Operable Unit is essentially complete.
[size=150:2b95mdyi]Operable Unit #4[/size]
Which is comprised of Groundwater/Surface Water and Ecological Risks, EPA is currently overseeing finalization of a Remedial Investigation (RI)/Feasibility Study (FS) which will utilize existing ground water data as well collect additional data from soils, surface water and groundwater to try to determine the extent of contamination. EPA's ecological risk assessment which will be incorporated with the remedial investigation. After the RI/FS is completed, EPA will evaluate several possible cleanup plans. After the RI/FS studies and reports are completed, EPA expects to issue a final clean up plan, or Record of Decision sometime in 2010.
The remediation process in Palmerton has been contentious. Both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the citizens' group Palmerton Citizens for a Clean Environment (PCCE) believe that extensive cleanup of the town's soil is necessary to protect human health. On the other hand, many citizens, including the Pro-Palmerton Coalition (PPC), argue that the health risks are exaggerated and that the town's Superfund status stigmatizes it. Both groups, as well as other stakeholders, are part of a Superfund Community Advisory Group called the Palmerton Environmental Task Force.