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EPA to Take Additional Protective Measures in Homes at Tranguch Gasoline Spill Site

Release Date: 2/13/2001
Contact Information: Public Information Center, (570) 455-9007

Public Information Center, (570) 455-9007

HAZLETON, Pa. – Responding to more protective recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the EPA has revised the contamination levels at which it will take action in protecting people’s homes at the Tranguch Gasoline Spill site here. Both the revised recommendations from PADOH and EPA’s new action levels are more protective than before.

EPA’s new action level for benzene is 8.3 micrograms per cubic meter. The former action level was 32 micrograms per cubic meter. Homes where benzene is measured at 8.3 micrograms per cubic meter or above after the installation of sewer vent traps will be provided with air filtering systems or other devices that will protect residents from benzene vapors in their homes.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health had initially set the 32 level, but after further consideration, recommended that the benzene be reduced to a non-detect (ND) level. 8.3 micrograms per cubic meter is the non-detect level for the 8-hour SUMMA test currently being used.

Furthermore, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concurred that the new benzene level is protective of public health as well as the action levels that EPA is using for the other chemicals associated with gasoline. The action levels for the other contaminants, also expressed in micro grams per cubic meter, are as follows: toluene at 300, ethyl benzene at 4,340, xylene at 437 and MTBE at 2,524 . These new standards represents, according to the ATSDR, levels that are “10 to 1000 times lower than the level at which no adverse health effects were observed.”

These are the procedures that EPA is now carrying out based on the revised recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH):

1) All homes in the Tranguch Oil Spill area are being offered sewer vent traps on their sewer lines.

2) All homes will be tested after the traps have been installed to measure the level of benzene and/or other contaminants that are entering the homes.

3) All homes where no level of benzene and/or other contaminants are detected after sewer traps are installed will be retested in six months to make sure the traps continue to be effective.

4) In homes where benzene and/or any of the other contaminants measure at the new standard or above it after the six-month re-test, the EPA will provide secondary treatment. The secondary treatment could be a carbon air filtering system or some other device which would reduce the contaminant levels. These homes will also be evaluated by EPA for the installation of a soil vapor extraction system either inside or outside the home. An individual configuration will be developed that is acceptable to the homeowner and approved by EPA.

5) All homes that receive secondary treatment would be re-tested three months after the secondary treatment is installed. If the level(s) continue above new standards, additional treatment technologies will be applied until the level(s) are brought down to non-detectable levels.

For more information residents are encouraged to contact the EPA Community Information Center at (570)455-9007 or (570)453-0981.