The WRG4 Vermiculite Site is located at 1210 Factory Avenue in Ellwood City, Lawrence County, PA approximately 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, PA. The Site is a former vermiculite expansion facility that was operated by W.R. Grace/Zonolite Co. from 1954–1969. EPA’s removal evaluations were conducted at the Site in response to an Agency-wide initiative to investigate current and former vermiculite facilities that received vermiculite ore from the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana.
The Site is situated on approximately two acres of land and is comprised of 2 parcels of land. The first parcel includes the former vermiculite expansion facility (an estimated 32,000 square foot brick building with a metal corrugated roof) and is located on a partially asphalted and compacted gravel lot with overgrown vegetation. The building was last used by a trucking company for short term storage. Currently the building is vacant and reportedly for sale. The adjacent parcel of land, originally included under the deed for the Site, is now owned by the Loyal Order of the Moose #93. During a period of time when the vermiculite facility was operational, the Moose Lodge property was a playground and ballfield often referred to as the “West End Playground”.
Reports from local residents and past workers indicated that the waste rock was placed on the adjacent playground and disposed of on the hillside behind the facility. Sampling results confirmed the presence of fibrous amphibole asbestos including amphibole structures indicative of the Libby, Montana ore in berm areas on the northwestern edge of the property and on the hillside behind the facility.
This removal action addresses the need to mitigate the potential threats posed by fibrous amphibole asbestos that was released into the environment from the processing of vermiculite ore and the disposal of associated waste products at this Site by W.R. Grace/Zonolite Co.