Jump to main content.


Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: September 1995

EPA Holds Public Meeting

On August 31, 1995, the U.S. EPA held a public meeting to update the Lock Haven community on the status of the Drake Chemical Site. The meeting was held at the Clinton County Courthouse in the large courtroom on the second floor. The meeting began at 7:00 p.m. and ended at 11:00 p.m.

At the meeting, the EPA Remedial Project Manager (RPM), Roy Schrock, and the EPA Region III Director of Hazardous Waste, Tom Voltaggio, summarized what has been happening at the site since the last public meeting in February. Among the topics discussed were:

This fact sheet summarizes the discussions on these topics.

Trial Burn Risk Assessment

EPA is in the process of preparing an indirect risk assessment that will measure the effects of incineration particles on the food chain in the Lock Haven community. EPA will look specifically at sensitive locations such as dairy and produce farms to develop criteria for the indirect risk assessment.

In addition to the indirect risk assessment, EPA is preparing a direct risk assessment to review the effects of incineration on breathing. EPA will use information from the different inversion models and data about the amounts of particles released from the incinerator to develop the direct risk assessment. EPA plans to complete the assessment this fall.

Inversion Modeling

EPA and its contractor, OHM/RUST, used an air dispersion model titled "Industrial Source Complex - Short Term - Draft" (ISCSTDFT) to determine the locations for the off-site air monitoring stations. Additionally, EPA will simulate air stagnation using the "Wind Valley" air dispersion model. This model will allow EPA to determine the level of stagnation that will increase the concentration of particles from the incinerator in the atmosphere. This model will predict higher particle concentrations even more accurately than the ISCSTDFT model.

In the near future, EPA and RUST will purchase a new meteorologic station that uses an acoustic beam to measure the thermal structure of the atmosphere and the wind speed at different altitudes. The equipment will identify the exact meteorologic conditions that exist during an inversion and help EPA determine how long the inversions last.

Air Monitoring

Before excavating the site soils, RUST conducted a background air quality investigation. During this investigation, RUST collected samples for a 24-hour period, one day per week, over an eight week period. The report on this investigation is available at the site repositories. (See the first pageof this fact sheet for repository locations.)

During the excavation activities, RUST conducted a 30-day air quality investigation. RUST began the investigation on April 21, 1995, and sampled the air every eight and 24 hours. The results of this investigation are also available at the site repositories.

Beginning this month, RUST began air monitoring activities within the Lock Haven community. The air monitors collect samples from four locations in Lock Haven: the top of the hill in Castenea; near the Piper Airport; near the hospital; and near the Keystone School District Administration Building. RUST will analyze the samples from these locations for metals, volatile compounds, and semivolatile compounds. RUST will conduct monitoring for a 24-hour period every six days.

Dioxin Issues

EPA plans to test for dioxins before, during, and after the soil incineration trial burn to find out whether incineration will dramatically change the dioxin levels in the surrounding environment. If EPA does not detect any dramatic changes, it will continue with the soil incineration as planned. EPA also will test for dioxins before, during, and after the actual soil incineration.

Before, during, and after incineration, EPA will sample moss, lichen, and leaves and calculate whether dioxins have risen as a result of the incineration. EPA will check the leaves of the same trees once a year, and will test moss and lichen every three months.

EPA's original plan was to test crops and farm animals during the test burn and during the actual incineration scheduled to begin next year. However, EPA determined that this plan was not practical since dioxin is found only in fat layers and farm animals would have to be cut to be tested. Thus, the same animal could not be tested three times. Additionally, area farmers wanted the results of crop testing to be kept confidential, which EPA can not guarantee because of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). EPA also was concerned that buyers would be hesitant to purchase products from area farms if EPA were to conduct sampling for contaminants in produce and livestock.

The Trial Burn Schedule

The trial burn schedule consists of three stages. The Trial Burn Plan, available at the site repositories, describes these stages in detail. The first phase is the official trial burn which establishes the necessary operating conditions for the incinerator. The second phase is called the risk burn. During this phase, EPA will sample over 60 chemical compounds and will use the results from these samples in the risk assessment. The final phase is the temperature burn phase. This phase ensures that the secondary chamber of the incinerator operates at 1,800 Fahrenheit. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) requires that the chamber operate at this temperature.

The official trial burn, the risk burn, and the temperature burn will involve a series of "runs," each lasting approximately three hours. All "runs" will be conducted within a 60-day period. The actual schedule for the trial burn consists of the following runs:

EPA will notify the Lock Haven community before conducting any trial burns.

Incinerator Permit Issues

EPA currently has a draft operating permit for the incinerator which allows it to conduct the trial burn. The final incinerator operating permit must meet the same requirements that PADEP places on any new incinerator in Pennsylvania. PADEP incinerator requirements include establishing standard operating temperatures, soil feed rates, baghouse pressure limits, particle release rates, and continuous release monitors. In addition, the incinerator operators must meet established performance criteria and reporting requirements. After EPA obtains the results from the trial burn, PADEP will finalize the incinerator operating permit. EPA expects PADEP to complete the final permit in March 1996.

Thermal Relief Vent (TRV)

A TRV is a vent installed at the top of the secondary combustion chamber on an incinerator. It releases hot combustion gases during normal or emergency shutdown procedures to prevent damaging the bags in the baghouse.

Normal shutdown procedures for the TRV include (1) shutting off all waste feed streams; (2) operating burners in the rotary kiln and the secondary combustion chamber for 30 minutes to allow for the treatment of all wastes within the system; (3) shutting down the burners; (4) stopping the operation of the kiln, conveyors, and water feeds; and (5) stopping the draft fan and opening the TRV. Any emissions released through the TRV during normal shutdown procedures will be minimal.

The TRV also might open during an emergency shutdown. An emergency shutdown can be brought on by failure of the draft fan, excessive temperatures in the incinerator, or power failures. During an emergency shutdown, waste and fuel feed streams and the combustion air and draft fans are immediately stopped. The kiln and ash conveyor will continue to operate if power is available, and the TRV will open to allow the hot gases from the secondary combustion chamber to escape into the air.

Most of the emissions from the TRV already will have been treated in the incinerator before being released into the air and will consist mainly of inorganic particles from the site soils. Recent sampling of the site soils revealed that inorganic concentrations generally fell within the natural range for soils in the area.

Drake Chemical Site Environmental Task Force to be Organized

On August 31, 1995, EPA met with the Lock Haven Environmental Advisory Committee. At this meeting, EPA suggested that the committee help form an environmental "task force" for the Drake Chemical Site. A task force is a committee comprised of representatives of various community organizations. The group will help review and disseminate information to Lock Haven residents and the local media. The task force also will work closely with EPA to ensure that the community is provided with timely and accurate information on the status of Drake Chemical Site and the outcome of the various tests and studies. The task force will serve as a clearinghouse for questions. Task force members will direct individual citizen's questions to the appropriate parties and ensure timely responses. The task force will distribute information to the community and media through press releases and public meetings. EPA will work closely with the task force in order to provide it with accurate information.

EPA suggested that the task force meet on a regular basis and that EPA attend these meetings only when necessary. The Clinton County Board of Commissioners may take the first steps to form the Drake Chemical Site Task Force at an upcoming meeting.

Do you have a question or comment about the Drake Chemical Site?

If you do, please fill out this form and return it to Vance Evans, the Drake Chemical Site Community Involvement Coordinator, at the address listed below.

Vance Evans (3EA30)
Community Involvement Coordinator
U.S. EPA Region III
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
215-814-5526
800-553-2509
evans.vance@epa.gov

For more information about the Drake Chemical Site, visit the site repositories at these locations:

Lock Haven City Hall
20 East Church Street
717-893-5910

Stevenson Library
Lock Haven University
717-893-2309

Ross Public Library
232 West Main Street
717-748-3321

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.