The Environmental Protection Agency cited 30 Superfund sites that have the greatest potential for redevelopment and commercial productivity, including the BoRit Asbestos Superfund site in Ambler. The sites included on this redevelopment list are based on outside interest, access to highways and transportation, and the value of the land, among other factors.
The BoRit site is a 32-acre former dumping ground for asbestos-containing materials from a nearby manufacturing plant from the early 1900s until the 1960s. The asbestos industry was an important aspect of the economy for many years in Ambler, with its railroad access to deliver mined asbestos and steady water supply.
The BoRit Superfund site is one of two asbestos superfund sites in Ambler alone, with many acres of asbestos waste piled up at both from the various asbestos factories the area used to rely on as the “asbestos-manufacturing capital of the world.” Ambler’s other known asbestos superfund site, dubbed the Ambler Asbestos Pile Superfund, completed extensive cleanups in 1993, though is still undergoing long-term monitoring and maintenance.
The large amounts of asbestos waste at these superfund sites and old uses lingering throughout the county has led to one of the highest rates of asbestos-related deaths in the nation, according to an Environmental Working Group report. Pennsylvania overall has the second highest mesothelioma death rate in the nation.
The Borit Asbestos Superfund site was first added to the EPA’s Superfund list in 2009 because of the potential for airborne asbestos and asbestos contamination in several fresh water sources that run through the area. Since then, the site has undergone various projects including installing a soil cover, stabilizing the stream banks, and draining, capping, and re-filling the reservoir.
The site cleanup was finished in the summer of 2017, though the site will continue to be monitored by the EPA for at least two years until the project is turned over to the state’s environmental department.
Next steps for its potential redevelopment remain to be seen for the site. In a press release, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the agency would be actively working on integrating these 30 Superfund sites back into their communities.