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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: June 1995

Site Activities

Soil Excavation

During recent soil excavation activities, EPA uncovered three tanks, the largest of which is approximately six feet in diameter. EPA also found over 50 drums. More than half of the drums are crushed or partially decomposed. EPA will take samples of the liquid contents of the tanks and drums and send the samples to a laboratory for analysis. Until EPA receives the sampling results, the tank and drum contents will be handled as though they contain hazardous materials. EPA will follow all hazardous waste removal safety guidelines.

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are committed to paying for any additional cost of removing the newly discovered tanks and drums. EPA will not incinerate any of the drums found during soil excavation at the Drake Site.

Air Monitoring

Throughout excavation activities, EPA will be conducting continuous air monitoring at the borders of the site. Also, EPA has performed 30 days of air sampling during the excavations. EPA will use the data gathered through the air sampling in the meteorological (weather) model review (discussed below) and in making future decisions.

Meteorological Model Review

EPA already has obtained a meteorological model and will be using it to examine the potential effects of area meteorological conditions, such as air stagnation and inversion, on the performance of the temporary incinerator at the Drake Site.

Trial Burn Risk Assessment

At the request of area residents, EPA will conduct an assessment of the risks involved in conducting the trial burn of the incinerator. A trial burn is a test run of the incinerator using soil from the site. The trial burn helps EPA determine if the incinerator meets current health and safety standards. EPA will complete the risk assessment and make it available for public review prior to the trial burn.

Clean-up Alternatives Revisited

This section continues a discussion of EPA's initial analysis of clean-up technologies for the Drake Chemical Site begun in the May 1995 fact sheet (This fact sheet is available for review at the information repositories. See page 4 for locations.)

EPA evaluated 21 clean-up alternatives according to a set of "ground rules" required under Superfund. The ground rules include each alternative's overall protection of human health and the environment, its compliance with Federal and state environmental laws, its cost, and its long-term effectiveness. Next, EPA evaluated each proposed alternative's technology based on the following criteria: its compatibility with site conditions; its ability to achieve treatment goals; how easily it could be implemented; its developmental status; and its reliability. EPA also examined each clean-up alternative's ability to meet the overall goal for the site of unlimited access and unrestricted use.

After evaluating the clean-up alternatives against the criteria mentioned above, EPA ruled out 16 of the 21 alternatives. (Refer to the May 1995 fact sheet for specific details.) EPA continued to evaluate the remaining five clean-up alternatives. After careful consideration, EPA decided that rotary kiln incineration is the most suitable clean-up alternative. All five clean-up alternatives are described below.

No action with monitoring.

Sludges, soils, and sediments would be left in their current state. EPA would monitor the ground water and surface water on a regular schedule.

EPA rejected the no action with monitoring alternative because it does not eliminate or reduce site contamination.

Infrared incineration.

The mobile, high-temperature incinerator proposed in this alternative uses electrically-powered silicon carbide rods to burn contaminants. The components of this clean-up process (including post-incineration activities) are similar to those in the rotary kiln incineration process described in the box to the left.

EPA rejected infrared incineration. Although EPA considers infrared incineration to be a proven technology, the process would take longer than rotary kiln incineration to clean up the site and would cost much more.

In-situ vitrification.

Soils, sludges, and sediments are electrically melted and transformed into a stable, glass-like solid. After using this process, EPA would replace the soil and replant the site.

EPA rejected in-situ vitrification because it is not yet a fully developed technology and it is not suitable for large-scale operations such as that required at the Drake Chemical Site.

In-situ soil washing.

Treated water from the on-site waste water treatment plant is sprayed on the ground and allowed to "percolate" through the contaminated soils, much like water through coffee grounds in a coffee maker. This water is then removed from the soils through extraction wells and treated on site.

EPA rejected in-situ soil washing because the process would not sufficiently reduce levels of some major site contaminants, including beta-naphthylamine and chlorinated compounds, and, would produceliquid wastes needing further treatment.

EPA's Chosen Clean-up Alternative

Rotary kiln incineration.

Sludges, soils, and sediments are excavated and treated in a temporary, mobile, high temperature incinerator. (The incinerator includes a large, rotating drum; a secondary treatment area; and a pollution control system.) EPA anticipates the incineration process will take one year. Once the cleanup is completed, EPA will dismantle the temporary incinerator and dispose of the incinerator ash off site. Next, EPA will replace the soil and replant the site. After landscaping activities are completed, the site will be available for unlimited access and unrestricted use.

EPA selected on-site rotary kiln incineration from the five clean-up alternatives because it is the most effective technology available to destroy the toxic chemicals in the sludges, soils, and sediments at this site. Rotary kiln incineration is a proven technology which has been used successfully at other sites to treat hazardous wastes.

Other Cleap-up Technologies

Advanced Treatment Technologies

Advanced treatment technologies use existing science or engineering in a way that has not been tried before. In other words, most new technologies are not breakthroughs, they are innovative changes in existing processes. More importantly, advanced treatment technologies are not a cure-all. Many problems and questions, such as their degree of effectiveness and reliability, remain. These issues need to be addressed before EPA is willing to use advanced treatment technologies.

Classifying Advanced Treatment Technologies

EPA received a number of questions from citizens on available technologies. In response, EPA is providing the following description of the program it established to evaluate and encourage the use of new technologies at Superfund sites. The program is called Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE). The goals of the program are to ensure that "innovative" technologies are developed, demonstrated, and made commercially available.

Under the SITE program, EPA defines technology in the following ways:

Regardless of the definition that applies to a technology, EPA will not classify it as available for use at Superfund sites until the technology has demonstrated reliability and performance and cost effectiveness and has successfully met the criteria in the SITE program's four-phase technology evaluation program. As a result, a number of technologies remain in the developmental phase according to EPA's criteria.

Assessing Other Technologies

Area citizens have cited various technologies from an EPA report as possible alternatives to rotary kiln incineration. Following is a summary of the report's assessment of these technologies. They are discussed in general categories rather than by individual technology. (Refer to the May 1995 fact sheet for a discussion of some of these technologies.)

EPA decided chemical treatment methods are inappropriate for the site because these processes are useful only when a single chemical is contaminating a site. Over 60 compounds are present at the Drake Site.

EPA chose not to use physical treatment methods because physical methods do not destroy wastes, but just change them into forms that are easier to treat further or to dispose. Many of these forms do not meet the overall goal for the Drake Chemical Site - unlimited access and unrestricted use.

EPA ruled out biological treatment methods such as biodegradation because engineered bacteria often kill the natural bacteria or simply do not survive in an environment outside of a laboratory. Also, because of the lack of control over environmental factors, results from laboratory tests cannot always be repeated in the real world.

As a result, EPA has chosen a thermal destruction method (rotary kiln incineration) as the clean-up alternative. EPA considers incineration a proven technology because it has passed the four phases of the SITE program and has years of proven operational experience. Also, incineration has been chosen at over 50 Superfund sites nationwide. The incinerator operations at the Drake Chemical Site are expected to take about one year. When clean-up operations are finished, the incinerator will be disassembled and moved away from the area.

The map in this fact sheet (not included in Internet file) shows the current condition of the Drake Chemical Site. EPA and USACE are conducting soil excavation activities in the large shaded area and in the utility corridor.* Over 50 drums and three tanks have been uncovered during these excavations. EPA will be moving all materials found during the excavations off site for disposal. Throughout excavation operations, EPA will be conducting air monitoring along the borders of the site.

*The utility corridor is the planned location for water and sewage lines.

Keeping you Informed About the Drake Chemical Site

In order to keep the community up-to-date on developments at the Drake Chemical Site, EPA will issue fact sheets on a monthly basis. Copies of fact sheets will be sent to everyone on the Drake mailing list and will be available at the information repositories and other public locations.

The Lock Haven Express will print bi-weekly descriptions of scheduled activities at the site and EPA will publish advisories about on-site developments as needed.

EPA is making arrangements to have an EPA representative present in Lock Haven on a regular basis. The representative will be available to answer any questions regarding work being performed at the site.

Tune in to your local radio stations! EPA representatives will be participating periodically in talk-back radio programs. Community members will hear updated information on clean-up activities and will be able to ask questions on the air.

Information Repositories

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

Lock Haven City Hall
20 East Church Street

Ross Public Library
232 West Main Street

Stevenson Library
Lock Haven University

EPA Contacts

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


An update on site activities and a discussion of the recently issued Explanation of Significant Differences

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

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