Wade Dump

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wade Dump
Superfund site
CountyDelaware County
Coordinates39°50′04″N 75°22′39″W / 39.834336°N 75.377632°W / 39.834336; -75.377632Coordinates: 39°50′04″N 75°22′39″W / 39.834336°N 75.377632°W / 39.834336; -75.377632
Wade Dump is located in Pennsylvania
Wade Dump
Wade Dump
ContaminantsArsenic, chromium, mercury, lead, PCBs, plastic resins, VOCs
List of Superfund sites

Wade Dump is a once-polluted Superfund cleanup site located at 1 Flower Street in Chester, Pennsylvania. Located on the western bank of the Delaware River just north of the Commodore Barry Bridge, the three-acre site once served as a rubber recycling facility and an illegal industrial waste storage and disposal facility. A toxic fire at the site in 1978 resulted in 43 injured firefighters and criminal charges for the owner of the site.

The site was cleaned up in several stages and removed from the National Priorities List in 1989. In 2004, it was turned into a parking lot for the city's Barry Bridge Park with approval from the state and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


From about 1950 to the early 1970s, the site was the location of Eastern Rubber Reclaiming, a rubber recycling facility. The property owner, Melvin Wade,[1] turned the site into an illegal industrial waste storage and disposal facility which operated until 1978. ABM Disposal Company paid Wade $1.00 to $1.50 per 55-gallon drum to store industrial waste on his property. ABM Disposal was not regulated by the state and had a long criminal record of dumping abuses in the Philadelphia area.[2] Wade accumulated 100 to 150 drums per week until approximately 10,000 drums were stored on site.[3] The drums leaked and workers dumped their contents onto the ground or into various trenches, severely contaminating soil and ground water.[4] More than 3 million gallons of cyanide, benzene, toluene, sodium copper cyanide,[2] polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)[5] and other chemicals were stored on the site along with thousands of tires.[1]

1978 Fire[edit]

In February 1978, an intense fire at the site destroyed one building and damaged two others where drums of waste were stored.[4] The burning chemicals produced multi-colored smoke and noxious fumes.[1] The Chester Fire Department mounted an aggressive attack but were driven back by exploding 55-gallon drums and disabling smoke.[6] Local hospitals treated 43 firefighters for injuries sustained during the fire.[3] The immediate effects of exposure to the toxic fumes included raw, burning throats; vomiting; a quickly forming red, itchy rash; and seared eyes and nasal passages.[6] Over 200 first responders including firemen, police and paramedics were exposed to the toxic fumes.[7] First responders to the fire experienced many health problems in subsequent years including several deaths from rare cancers. Cancer rates of firemen at the fire or cleanup were five to six times the norm.[6]

In 1980, Melvin Wade was convicted of risking a catastrophe, failing to prevent a catastrophe and violating the Clean Water Act by polluting the Delaware River. He was sentenced to one to two years in prison and fined $30,000.[8]


In late 1981 and early 1982, the EPA conducted two emergency cleanups in which workers removed an estimated 5,000 gallons of PCB-contaminated waste, 10,000 gallons of other hazardous wastes for incineration and 155 tons of contaminated solids.[4]

In 1984, a long-term plan was developed for the site cleanup which was managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). The work took place in 1987. Tires, tankers, debris piles, and buildings were removed, decontaminated, and disposed of. Contaminated soil was removed to depths with acceptable levels of contamination or to the level of the water table. The site was leveled, filled and graded, then covered with topsoil and seeded to minimize erosion. The EPA, in conjunction with the state, removed the site from the National Priorities List in 1989.[4]

In 2004, with EPA and state approval, the site was given drainpipes to clear stormwater and paved with asphalt to create a parking lot for the city's Barry Bridge Park.[4]

In 2008, the Barry Bridge Park site adjacent to Wade Dump was selected as the site of Talen Energy Stadium, home of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer franchise.[4]

In 2014, a five-year review of the site concluded that the site continues to be protective of human health and the environment. The EPA and PADEP continue to monitor the site.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Landfill Fires; Their Magnitude, Characteristics and Mitigation. Federal Emergency Management Agency. May 2002. p. 17. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b Nordland, Rod (September 24, 1979). "A Chester dump owner defends himself...'I didn't know that stuff was dangerous'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Franklin, Ben A. "Urban Neglect". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Wade (ABM) Chester, PA". www.cumulis.epa.gov. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  5. ^ Stranahan, Susan Q. "Beyond the Flames - The scourge remains untended". www.inquirer.philly.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Tippett Jr., John B. "Lessons from History: Fires You Should Know About". www.firehouse.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  7. ^ Stranahan, Susan Q. "Beyond the Flames - A staggering chemical find; a warning never sounded". www.inquirer.philly.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Editorial: Wade dump tragedy still taking its toll". www.delcotimes.com. Retrieved 2 July 2018.