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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: May 1995

EPA Holds Public Meeting

On February 28, 1995, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III Administrator Peter H. Kostmayer and a team of technical specialists met with area residents in Lock Haven. During two public information sessions, the team answered questions and responded to citizen concerns regarding the proposed hazardous waste incineration at the Drake Chemical Corporation Site (the site).

As part of its efforts to clean up the site, EPA is proposing to use a mobile incinerator to decontaminate the soil. The on-site soil is contaminated with a number of substances, but EPA is most concerned about beta-napthalamine (BNa). BNa was used at Drake as part of the dye production process. It is a highly potent compound that is known to cause bladder cancer. BNa is also contaminating the groundwater at the site. EPA is concerned that BNa will make its way into Bald Eagle Creek and eventually into the drinking water supply.

At the public information sessions, Lock Haven residents raised a number of concerns about the safety of hazardous waste incinerators. To address those concerns EPA will conduct additional risk assessment activities as described below.

Trial Burn Risk Assessment

A trial burn is a test run of the incinerator using soil from the site. A trial burn helps EPA determine if the incinerator meets appropriate health and safety standards. Due to concern about the safety of the trial burn itself, EPA will conduct an assessment of the risks involved in performing this activity.

Testing Produce for Dioxin

Dioxin may be produced during burning. Dioxins are harmful when they accumulate in the food chain. EPA will test area produce for dioxin levels prior to any incineration taking place at the site. The tests will show the current level of dioxin. Testing will continue throughout the incineration process to check dioxin levels and to see if they increase.

Meteorological Model Review

Individuals at the meeting voiced concerns about the impact of specific weather and wind conditions in the Lock Haven area on the incinerator. EPA has already begun collecting data to include in a meteorological model. The model will show what effects, if any, conditions will have on the efficiency and safety of the proposed incinerator.

New Technologies Review

EPA is planning to conduct a second review of hazardous waste clean-up technologies. This review will explore new technologies that were not in use during the initial technology assessment.

All information from the reviews and assessments listed above will be made available to the public. Copies of final documents will be placed at the public information repositories. Repository locations are listed on page 5 of this fact sheet.

In addition to conducting these assessments, EPA will be helping members of the Lock Haven community obtain a technical assistance grant. This grant will give area residents the funds to hire independent consultants to review site activities and advise residents.

Clean-up Technologies

Area residents have asked about alternative remedies for cleaning up the contaminated soil at Drake. Below is a summary of the clean-up methods reviewed as part of the 1988 feasibility study. EPA also is planning an assessment of new technologies to complement the research from this study. Some of these technologies are in different stages of development; therefore, their implementation is questionable until more experience is gained.

Thermal Energy Methods

Rotary Kiln Incinerator
Contaminated soil is burned at high temperatures in a mobile unit with air pollution controls and an exhaust stack.
Plasma Arc Pyrolysis
Gas and electricity create a flame that burns waste and breaks it down into very small pieces. These recombine into gases that are scrubbed to remove any acids.
Infrared Incineration
Waste is placed on a conveyor belt and exposed to intense energy. The waste burns to create new gases and solids.

Extraction Methods

Basic Extraction Sludge Treatment (B.E.S.T.)
B.E.S.T. uses ammonia-derived compounds mixed with waste sludge to remove contaminants. Using varying temperatures, the contaminants are separated from other materials in the sludge.
Supercritical Fluid
This method uses liquified gas as a cleaning solution to separate contaminants from liquids and solids.
Vacuum Extraction
A vacuum pump and wells are installed at the site. Volatile organics, a very common type of contaminant, are pulled from the ground and released into the atmosphere or captured in a collection unit.
Soil Washing
Liquid is circulated through soil to extract contaminants. The liquid is then collected and removed for treatment.

Biodegradation Methods

The contaminated area is tilled and special nutrient-rich fertilizers are added. Bacteria or fungi feed on the contamination and nutrients.
In-Situ Biodegradation
Microbes are injected into the soil on site through wells. The microbes will eventually degrade the contaminants.

Solidification Methods

Pozzolanic Systems
Cement is mixed into the soil where it captures the contaminants. When the cement dries, the contaminants are sealed inside.
Waste is mixed into a heated, liquified, plastic material and then cooled into a solid and placed in containers. The waste remains suspended in the thermoplastic.
Organic Polymer
Waste is mixed with a chemical compound to create a spongy mass that traps the contaminants. The spongy mass is heated and cooled to make a solid. The solid is then placed in storage containers. The remaining liquids are treated and disposed.
Solids are heated and captured in melted glass and then cooled. The glass is then disposed in an approved landfill.
In-Situ Vitrification
This method is like glassi-fication but occurs in the ground. Electrodes and graphite are used to melt the soil and contaminants. The contaminants become part of the melted mass, which cools into a rocklike material. A hood is placed over the entire area to prevent gases from escaping into the air.

Technology Assessment

The agency evaluated each technology based on the following criteria: its compatibility with site conditions; its ability to achieve the treatment goals; how easily it could be implemented; its developmental status (is it an emerging technology or is it already in use); its reliability (what are the potential failures); and how well the public's health and the environment would be protected during and after the treatment. The chart on the following page summarizes this data, which is described in greater detail in the preliminary draft evaluation report of candidate alternatives. This report is available at the site repositories.

After review of the available technologies, EPA established 21 options for cleaning up the contaminated soil. Further assessment ruled out 16 of these clean-up options for the reasons outlined below.

RCRA Closure with Capping
This was not a viable option due to the site's location in a flood plain and to the lack of protection offered.
On-site Landfill
See RCRA Closure above
Off-site Disposal at RCRA Landfill
No landfill is available that could accept the amount of waste that would be excavated from Drake.
Constructing Slurry Walls
This was not a feasible option due to the bedrock conditions at the site.
This method offers only partial remediation and requires the use of potentially toxic compound additives.
Pozzolanic Solidification
This technology would provide only partial remediation. The contamination at Drake is mostly organics; pozzolanic solidification works best with heavy metals.
Low Temperature Pyrolysis
This is an undeveloped and technically inappropriate option based on some metal contamination and the soil type at Drake.
Rotary Kiln Incineration and Pozzolanic Solidification
Because the contamination is uniform throughout the site, EPA determined that a single technology would be the best approach. (Solidification would be used only as a treatment for the ash). The same logic applies to the following dual-technology options:

The five remaining options and some additional technologies will be discussed in the next fact sheet.

How Can I Find Out More About the Drake Chemical Site?

Invite an EPA Representative to a Meeting

EPA's community involvement facilitators would be happy to speak with interested citizens at your club's or organization's next meeting. To make arrangements, call Vance Evans at 800-553-2509.

Visit the Information Repositories

Copies of legal documents, studies, and information relevant to the Drake Chemical Site are available for public review at the following locations in Lock Haven:

Lock Haven City Hall
20 East Church Street

Ross Public Library
232 West Main Street

Stevenson Library
Lock Haven University
Lock Haven, PA  17745

Ask EPA a Question

If you have questions or comments about the Drake Chemical Site, please contact:

Community Involvement Coordinator
Vance Evans (3EA30)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

Remedial Project Manager
Roy Schrock (3HW22)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

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