Jump to main content.

Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: December 1997

EPA Draft Risk Assessment Says Cleanup Is Safe, Experts To Review Conclusions

EPA scientists have concluded that the full-scale cleanup, tentatively set to begin in February 1998, will not pose a threat to public health or the environment in Lock Haven and the surrounding communities. This is the result of eight months of carefully studying volumes of data collected during the January and February 1997 trial burn process at the Drake Chemical Superfund site.

Before cleanup can begin in earnest, however, this conclusion and its 2,800 pages of supporting data contained in the draft risk assessment must be considered by a panel of 14 independent, outside scientists. This group, known as peer reviewers, has been chosen from a slate of nominations put forward by groups representing everyone affected by the Drake Superfund site and its cleanup.

Copies of the Draft Risk Assessment have been placed in the three public Information Repositories within Lock Haven where they are available for public review and analysis. Additional copies have been provided directly to major stakeholder groups including city and county governments, the Arrest the Incinerator Remediation, Inc. organization and the Clinton County Farm Bureau.

During the early-1997 trial burn process, the plant operated under a wide range of conditions that simulated both best-case and worst-case scenarios for full-scale operation. Extensive samples of feed soil, cleansed soil and stack gas emissions were taken and analyzed for each variation in operating conditions. Emissions measured during the trial are expected to be representative of emissions during full-scale operations.

The new risk assessment study considers separate risk possibilities for a hypothetical resident, a subsistence farmer and a recreational fisherman. It then breaks risk categories down further for an adult, a child and a nursing infant. The results can be summarized as follows: If ten million adults stood at the location of greatest emissions, night and day for a full two years of round-the-clock operation, then over the course of their lifetimes, one individual out of the ten million would have an increased chance of developing a cancer that he or she would not normally be expected to develop from other causes.

Over 200 organic and inorganic chemicals that were measured in stack emissions, detected in the Drake soil or predicted as "potentially produced through incomplete combustion of chemicals known to be present", were evaluated in this study. In developing predictions of air, soil and water concentrations, EPA scientists used computerized modeling of meteorological conditions in the Susquehanna air basin and modeling of watershed and surface water bodies in the Lock Haven area.

In looking for potential threats to humans, researchers looked at a full range of ways in which emisssions could get into the human body including eating, breathing and touching contaminants. They looked, too, at both the results of short, accidental releases of emissions and the results of exposure to the emissions over long periods of time.

Two Opportunities to Present Your Views

  1. Peer Assessment Workshop in Williamsport
  2. Lock Haven Public Meeting in early February

Partnering ... The Drake Cleanup Team

As planning, construction and operations have evolved at the Drake Chemical Superfund site, a number of organizations have been visible participants.

Senior management of the four major participants -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and OHM Remediation Services Corp. (OHM) -- recognized that they needed a better way of working together. They turned to a management technique called partnering where managers and employees of each participant gain a better understanding of each other's functions, structures and objectives. One beneficial result was the formation of the Drake Cleanup Team, where team members can address the public as a single unit and the public has one office to contact with a question or problem.

Through partnering, EPA, PaDEP, USACE and OHM employees meet regularly with their respective counterparts -- executives meet with executives, managers meet with managers, team supervisors meet with team supervisors -- to gain better understanding of each other, to build a common sense of teamwork and to discuss issues early, in order to assure open communication.

USACE, who brought the concept to the Drake team, has used partnering elsewhere where they found that approaching major projects as a team has significantly reduced excessive change orders, disputes and cost overruns.

The primary goal for everyone on the Drake team is to safely clean up the site. While working together toward the common primary goals, each member has a distinct role to play. That is not changed by teamwork. None of the regulating agencies' enforcement authority is jeopardized while the team members work together.

{caption accompanying photograph}
Stockpile is coated to protect community and workers.

OHM technicians spray a coating of ConCover® to the Drake soil stockpile before the Thanksgiving weekend break. A commercial product especially produced for erosion control, ConCover is sprayed in a consistency similar to paper maché mulch. It then hardens to a crust which minimizes erosion by wind or rain. Over the previous several days, technicians had reshaped a part of the stockpile so that handling of the contaminated soil, while sorting out debris prior to incineration, could be done more quickly and safely.

Drake Cleanup Team Achieves Major Safety Milestone

During the week of December 8th, Drake cleanup workers with OHM Remediation Services Corp. passed a safety milestone of logging more than 350,000 work hours without an OSHA Lost Time Accident. It has been more than 875 days since the last lost time accident.

Since OSHA established stringent rules for reporting workplace accidents, firms in all industries track safety performance and can set goals for achieving such outstanding performance.

Safety Notes

Safety Employee of the Month

David J. Miller, a long-time resident of the Village of Oriole (near Jersey Shore), was selected as November's Safety Employee of the Month. Dave joined OHM and The Drake Cleanup Team in early September to perform maintenance on the incinerator plant. A graduate of Williamsport High School, Dave brings a background in performing structural maintenace on heavy trucks and moving machinery. His co-workers were so impressed with his dedication to safety that they nominated him for the award stating that even as "a new hire, he quickly adapted to OHM's safety philosphy." They pointed out that he asks questions whenever unsure about proper procedures and he always reviews tasks with a supervisor.

The Safety Employee of the Month award goes to the employee making the greatest contibution to safety improvement at the cleanup site and is selected from nominations submitted by fellow employees.

The Incinerator Process

Rotary kiln incineration is a safe, proven technology that has been used successfully at other sites to treat hazardous wastes. Incineration is the most effective way to address the contaminants at the Drake Chemical site. Here is how the incineration process works:

The contaminated soil is fed into the rotary kiln, which heats the soil to remove contaminants.

  1. After traveling through the kiln, the treated soil moves through a set of conveyors before being deposited into a holding area.

  2. Combustion gases released from heating the soil are separated from the soil at the end of the kiln in the breach.

    Next, gases are sent to the cyclone. The cyclone separates any remaining small pieces of soil from the gas stream before the gas enters the secondary combustion chamber.

    In the secondary combustion chamber, virtually all of the organics in the gas stream are destroyed in a second heating process.

    Under rare circumstances, after the gases pass through the secondary combustion chamber, they may be temporarily released through the thermal relief vent (TRV). The TRV opens only in rare circumstances when necessary to prevent overheating of other areas of the incinerator. If the TRV opens, feed to the incinerator stops immediately.

    Following the secondary combustion chamber, the gases enter the evaporative cooler, where the combustion gases are cooled.

  3. In the baghouse, dust and ash particulates are filtered from the combustion gases, before being conveyed to storage.

  4. The combustion gases are drawn throughout the system by the induced draft fan, which creates a vacuum from the face of the kiln through the system to the fan.

  5. The induced draft fan sends the gases through the acid gas scrubber, which removes acid gases formed in the combustion process.

    Ultimately the gases are discharged through the stack.

    The inert solids from the kiln, cyclone and secondary combustion chamber, are combined in the bottom ash system and wetted for cooling and dust control, prior to discharge into a bin for analysis.

    Solids from the evaporative cooler and baghouse are combined in the fly ash system, before the cooling and dust control process, prior to discharge into a storage bin for analysis.

EPA Contacts

U.S. EPA Region III
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

Gregg Crystall (3HS22)
Drake Team Leader

Hans Petersen (3HS43)
Community Involvement Coordinator

Drake Community Information Hotline


Peer Review Workshop to be Held in Williamsport

A highly qualified panel of experts will meet January 15 and 16 in Williamsport to review the risk assessment of the Drake Chemical Superfund site. The Drake Cleanup Team will respond to the comments and revise the risk assessment where appropriate.

While the Environmental Protection Agency's risk assessment has determined that the incineration process poses no threat to the safety and health of the citizens of Lock Haven, this peer review process represents an additional opportunity for the issues to be reviewed and discussed.

The objective of the January forum is to ensure the scientific quality of the risk assessment. The Drake Cleanup Team will not begin incineration until the comprehensive risk assessment has been externally peer reviewed.

The peer reviewers were chosen from nominations submitted by various stakeholders, including: Arrest the Incinerator Remediation, Inc., the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Lock Haven and the Clinton County Commissioners.

The two-day forum at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport will be open to the public for observation. There will be an opportunity during the workshop for the public to make comments to the peer reviewers. Hours for the Forum will be announced on the Drake Cleanup Team Hotline: 717-748-5602 after January 1.

The participating peer reviewers were selected by EPA's Risk Assessment Forum, a national organization not associated with the Drake risk assessment.

Coming from universities and corporations throughout the United States, the peer reviewers represent expertise in the areas of human toxicology, ecological toxicology, environmental fate and transport, combustion engineering, atmospheric modeling and exposure modeling.

The peer reviewers were also screened to prevent any financial, institutional or technical bias in regards to the issues under review. This is necessary for an objective, fair and responsible evaluation of the risk assessment.



Monday: 10:00 - 12:00 and 3:00 - 5:00
Tuesday: 1:00 - 5:00
Wednesday: 1:00 - 3:00 and 5:00 - 7:00
Thursday: 1:00 - 5:00
Friday: 10:00 - 12:00 and 3:00 - 5:00

The first and third Saturdays, each month: 10:00 - 2:00

Additional hours by appointment.

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

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.