The federal government took over the cleanup effort at Exide Technologies’ former hazardous waste site in Muhlenberg Township under the Superfund program following the dissolution of the bankrupt company.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has been involved with the site since 1988, ordering corrective action to address contaminations. And in 2000, the EPA asked Exide to investigate the extent of lead contamination in the soil of the community surrounding the facility at 3000 Montrose Ave. and clean up properties affected by lead emissions.

Exide has completed some of this work, but not all. The EPA says there still needs to be investigation and remediation of soil contamination at Gethsemane Cemetery and along Bernhart Creek.

There is also extensive on-site work on the 45-acre Exide property that needs to be completed to address the release of hazardous waste, according to the EPA. This work includes excavation and soil capping, sediment remediation, groundwater monitoring, and smelter demolition and decontamination.

The EPA released a baseline statement in May 2020 that outlined a plan to complete the cleanup and monitor the Exide site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is major on-site work at the 45-acre former Exide property in Muhlenberg Township that needs to be completed to tackle the dumping of hazardous waste . (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

However, just before this plan was released to the public, Exide filed for bankruptcy.

When the Georgia-based company filed for bankruptcy, all Exide properties that had value were sold. Assets that had no value, such as the Exide property, were abandoned.

Following the bankruptcy settlement, Exide dissolved in October 2020.

Due to the dissolution of the company, the federal government has withdrew the basic declaration which explained what else Exide needed to do as part of the cleanup. Instead, work on site will now be managed under the federal Superfund program.

According to EPA documents, the remaining cleanup will cost more than $17 million.

The court established the Exide Environmental Response Trust as part of the company’s bankruptcy settlement, and $500,000 was paid into that trust for the Muhlenberg cleanup. An additional $2 million for the project was acquired through the forfeiture of a bond from the State Department of Environmental Protection for the closure of former hazardous waste management units.

The EPA has allocated an additional $15 million for the project and is working on the site.

EPA officials are also considering including the site on the Superfund’s National Priorities List, which would ensure long-term monitoring and remediation.

The Exide install started making batteries in the 1930s as the Bowers Battery Company. General Battery became the owner in 1958, followed by Exide in 1980.

Exide ceased battery manufacturing at the site in 2010. Lead recycling operations ended in 2013.

From 2013 to 2020, the facility was used for the recycling of non-hazardous plastics.