Metal Bank

Looking downstream at the Metal Bank site and mudflats on the Delaware River in 1991.
Looking downstream at the Metal Bank site and mudflats on the Delaware River in 1991.

“Achieving cleanup and restoration of valuable Delaware River habitat in this urban area is necessary for the recovery of natural resources, endangered species, and the ongoing revitalization of local communities.”

Peter Knight,
NOAA Regional Resource Coordinator


Peter Knight
NOAA Assessment and Restoration Division
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 814-3321

Metal Bank

Hazardous Waste Site | Philadelphia, PA | 1962 to Present


What Happened?

From 1962 to 1985, Metal Bank of America Inc. owned and operated a salvage yard adjacent to the Delaware River. The facility recycled scrap metal and electrical transformers from various utility companies. Oil containing PCBs polychlorinated biphenyls; a class of chemicals previously used in manufacturing that remain in the environment for many decades, accumulate in living creatures, and pose health hazards to humans, wildlife, and fish. and other contaminants was released into the environment during the salvage process, and also leaked from an underground storage tank.

In 1983, EPAU.S. Environmental Protection Agency; federal agency with the mission to protect human health and safeguard the environment. designated the Metal Bank property a Superfund siteAn uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people. Sites are listed on the National Priorities List for evaluation and cleanup by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.. NOAA has worked closely with EPA throughout the cleanup to ensure that activities are protective of the environment.

From 2008 to 2010, the EPA-led crew excavated contaminated soils and river sediments, capped river sediments, installed a retaining wall near the river, and removed an oil storage tank. In 2012, the upland area was replanted with native vegetation. In 2013, EPA confirmed that cleanup efforts had reduced the threat to the river environment and enhanced recovery of habitat. EPA continues to monitor contaminant levels and habitat recovery at the site.


What Were the Impacts?

NOAA and other trusteesGovernment officials acting on behalf of the public when there is injury to, destruction of, loss of, or threat to natural resources. are currently evaluating the extent of injuries due to past contamination at the site. Preliminary data indicate that soil, sediment, fish, birds, and groundwater were exposed to PCBs at levels sufficient to cause injury. Many species, including clams, birds, fish, and the endangered Atlantic and Shortnose sturgeons, were exposed to harmful concentrations of PCBs.


What’s Happening Now?

We are working closely with the other trustees to conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)Investigation performed by trustees to identify injuries to natural resources caused by oil spills, hazardous substance releases, and grounding incidents in National Marine Sanctuaries, and plan restoration activities. The goal of NRDA is to restore natural resources and compensate the public for lost recreational use. for the affected area. We have completed a Preliminary Assessment Screen and a Damage Assessment and Restoration Options Report. Those evaluations provide information about the likely types and causes of injuries at the site, and we are currently coordinating with the responsible parties to identify restoration projects that will compensate for injuries to the environment.

Last updated March 26, 2019