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EPA Begins Sampling of Bernhart Park

Release Date: 6/15/2001
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548 & Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548 & Bonnie Smith, (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that a comprehensive round of soil, reservoir sediment, and surface water sampling at Bernhart Park, in Muhlenberg Township, Pa., will begin June 18 and continue for approximately two weeks.

The City of Reading closed Bernhart Park five years ago when a limited number of soil samples showed lead levels of concern, possibly attributed to plant operations from the nearby Exide facility, in some areas of the park.

Acknowledging concern raised by residents of the City of Reading regarding public health risks associated with the park and its unavailability for recreational use, EPA is working collaboratively with Exide, the Pennsylvania Department Environmental Protection, the City of Reading, and local officials to accelerate the investigation process by conducting a comprehensive investigation of the soil, surface water, and sediment in the park.

Because of the efforts of Jim Reber, a nearby resident who has been instrumental in heightening awareness of the community’s need to reopen the park, Bernhart Park has been elevated on the list of priority clean-up properties. The sampling is related to an EPA order that Exide signed in March.

The sampling plan developed jointly with EPA, PADEP, and Exide will give a comprehensive picture of the lead levels in the park. Once the results are available, EPA will make a recommendation to the City of Reading about the next steps. All parties are hopeful that the sampling will indicate there are no health risks associated with lead levels found in the park.

If the results indicate widespread contamination, the clean-up of Bernhart Park will be addressed in accordance with the cleanup order. Then, the park’s clean-up could occur at the same time Exide is cleaning-up nearby residential properties.

The cleanup order, consent agreement, and the agency’s response to comments are available on the EPA homepage at: