Each rail car (or gondola) can hold up to 104 tons, but is usually kept to a load of 100 tons.
The final destination for the soil is an environmentally-controlled landfill in Idaho, said EPA Project Manager Richard Robinson.
The hazardous and radioactive waste treatment facility in Idaho has an arid climate, deep groundwater and favorable geology to help insure permanent waste isolation, he said.
The cars are lined with plastic to help contain the soil, which is loaded from trucks going back and forth to the railroad location.
A scale is incorporated into the back hoe that enables a tarry or the count of the soil weight going into each car.
“Once loaded the plastic is wrapped around the soil and sealed like a ‘burrito’ to contain the dirt, Robinson said.
So far 34,500 tons of soil has been removed and 50,000 tons is the target for the clean-up of the site. The project is on schedule, he said.
The workers are digging down to 15 feet. Three to four feet of the area on top is clean fill that previously was placed over the location and is non-hazardous, according to EPA officials.
Conrail cars come in twice a week to start the travel and disposal of the soil, first going north from the area and then heading West to Idaho.
The next phase of the EPA clean-up of radioactive thorium is expected to begin at the Gloucester Marine Terminal waterfront location within the next few months, Robinson said.
It is the actual site of the former Welsbach Gas Mantle factory.