Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Butler Township Residents Notified About Solar Project on Hazardous Waste Site

Butler Township residents were notified last week about an upcoming solar project that could potentially take place on a hazardous waste site.

In letters received from the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board, dated January 18th, 2024, residents with adjoining properties were notified of a hearing set to take place about a proposed solar farm on three parcels on Germanville Road.

Those parcels are listed as:

  • 04-05-0040
  • 04-05-0006
  • 04-05-0005
According to the letter, Solitude Solar LLC has requested 2 variances to build the solar farm on the property, the former Ashland Metals property, a battery recycling business, which is considered a hazardous waste site.

A public hearing to address the variances is scheduled for February 7th, 2024 at the Butler Township Municipal Building located at 211 Broad Street.  Residents are invited to express their opinions or positions to the pending application.

According to DEP, several buildings are still onsite including the former processing building used for site operations, an office building and a garage/repair shop. Waste piles of chopped battery casings, waste acid tanks and trailers filled with whole and chopped battery casings are present. Vegetation at the site is sparse, with most of the site subject to erosion. Although no mining operations have occurred onsite, the site contains a surficial fill layer consisting of coal tailings from the area. 

According to a report by DEP, a recent site study conducted by Foster Wheeler Environmental Corp. working as a Department General Technical Assistance Contractor revealed the presence of significant quantities of buried chopped and whole battery casings scattered throughout the site. Significant levels of lead contamination are associated with the media surrounding these buried wastes. The Foster Wheeler study confirmed the presence of significant levels of lead contamination as presented in earlier site studies and quantified the extent of surface, soil, surface water and groundwater contamination at the site. Wastes present in above ground storage tanks were sampled. Containerized waste on the site were inventoried and also sampled. The results, which were presented in a site Technical Directive Memorandum (TDM) to the Department, indicated that hazardous levels of contamination were present throughout the site in site soils, containers and waste/debris piles.

 Releases have occurred from the site during the battery recycling operations. The releases include lead, and lead by-products found in batteries, acids and waste whole and chopped battery casings. Acids were collected in an acid holding tank which is still located onsite. The efficiency of this collection system is questionable, and releases of acids occurred during normal plant operations. Battery casings were chopped and stored and/or disposed of onsite. Waste piles present onsite were found to contain high levels of lead and could present the largest source of contamination from the site, impacting site soils and groundwater.

   Previous site investigations have determined that areas of site contamination consist of site soils, waste piles, debris and containers within site buildings, acid storage tanks, stockpiled battery casings and buried battery casings. Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) data indicate that all of the waste types exhibited TCLP lead concentrations characteristic of hazardous waste. Total lead concentrations in soils throughout most of the site exceed 1,000 ppm. Lead has also been demonstrated to be present in groundwater associated with the site.

The proposed response action on the property includes the offsite treatment and disposal of contaminated waste/debris piles and building materials, and placement of a clay and soil/vegetative cover over the site.

The full application, information, and possible responses are listed at