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Changes in Groundwater Flow and Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations at the Fischer and Porter Superfund Site, Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1993-2009

May 26, 2010

The 38-acre Fischer and Porter Company Superfund Site is in Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pa. Historically, as part of the manufacturing process, trichloroethylene (TCE) degreasers were used for parts cleaning. In 1979, the Bucks County Health Department detected TCE and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water from the Fischer and Porter on-site supply wells and nearby public-supply wells. The Fischer and Porter Site was designated as a Superfund Site and placed on the National Priorities List in September 1983. A 1984 Record of Decision for the site required the Fischer and Porter Company to pump and treat groundwater contaminated by VOCs from three on-site wells at a combined rate of 75 gallons per minute to contain groundwater contamination on the property. Additionally, the Record of Decision recognized the need for treatment of the water from two nearby privately owned supply wells operated by the Warminster Heights Home Ownership Association. In 2004, the Warminster Heights Home Ownership Association sold its water distribution system, and both wells were taken out of service. The report describes changes in groundwater levels and contaminant concentrations and migration caused by the shutdown of the Warminster Heights supply wells and presents a delineation of the off-site groundwater-contamination plume. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted this study (2006-09) in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).

The Fischer and Porter Site and surrounding area are underlain by sedimentary rocks of the Stockton Formation of Late Triassic age. The rocks are chiefly interbedded arkosic sandstone and siltstone. The Stockton aquifer system is comprised of a series of gently dipping lithologic units with different hydraulic properties. A three-dimensional lithostratigraphic model was developed for the site on the basis of rock cores and borehole geophysical logs. The model was simplified by combining individual lithologic units into generalized units representing upward fining sedimentary cycles capped by a siltstone bed. These cycles were labeled units 1 through 8 and are called stratigraphic units in this report. Groundwater in the unweathered zone mainly moves through a network of interconnecting secondary openings--bedding-plane fractures and joints. Groundwater generally is unconfined in the shallower part of the aquifer and confined or semiconfined in the deeper part of the aquifer.

The migration of VOCs from the Fischer and Porter Site source area is influenced by geologic and hydrologic controls. The hydrologic controls have changed with time. Stratigraphic units 2 and 3 crop out beneath the former Fischer and Porter plant. VOCs originating at the plant source area entered these stratigraphic units and moved downdip to the northwest. When the wells at and in the vicinity of the site were initially sampled in 1979-80, three public-supply wells (BK-366, BK-367, MG-946) and three industrial-supply wells (BK-368, BK-370, and BK-371) were pumping. Groundwater contaminated with VOCs flowed downdip and then northeast along strike toward well BK-366, downdip toward well BK-368, and downdip and then west along strike toward well MG-946. The long axis of the TCE plume is oriented about N. 18? W. in the direction of dip. In 1979-80, the leading edge of the plume was about 3,500 feet wide. With the cessation of pumping of the supply wells in 2004, the size of the plume has decreased. In 2007-09, the plume was approximately 2,000 feet long and 2,000 feet wide at the leading edge.

On the western side of the site, TCE and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) appear to be moving downdip though stratigraphic unit 3. The downdip extent of TCE and PCE migration extended approximately 550 feet off-site to the northwest and 750 feet off-site to the north. TCE concentrations in water samples from wells at the western site boundary increased from 1996 to 2007. On the northern side of the site, TCE and P

Publication Year 2010
Title Changes in Groundwater Flow and Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations at the Fischer and Porter Superfund Site, Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1993-2009
DOI 10.3133/sir20105054
Authors Ronald A. Sloto
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5054
Index ID sir20105054
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pennsylvania Water Science Center