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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: February/March 1998, Issue #7

Public Meeting Brings EPA and Community Together

On February 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with approximately 160 Lock Haven-area residents at a public meeting to discuss concerns about the planned startup of incinerator operations at the Drake Chemical Superfund Site.   

At the meeting EPA officials discussed the risk assessment, which an independent panel of scientists reviewed. These scientists participated in a public peer review workshop in mid-January. The peer review panel discussed several issues that they thought the Drake Team needed to address. EPA thoroughly reviewed these issues and concluded that no issues were raised that should delay the soil cleanup at the Drake Site.

Weather Monitoring Provides Additional Safety

Also discussed at the public meeting was the state-of-the-art weather monitoring equipment that has been installed at the site to provide the Drake Cleanup Team with continuous 24-hour data on weather conditions. Data is automatically fed into a computer-based model that calculates the current pollution hazard index (an assessment of health risk based on weather and emissions). If this hazard index indicates that there is an unacceptable health risk, the site soil feed to the incinerator will stop until the weather improves. 

EPA considers the monitoring equipment, known as SODAR (Sonic Detection and Ranging), a valuable addition to the numerous safety procedures already in place at the site. Because any health risk from the incinerator emissions is low, it would take an unusually heavy inversion over an extended period of time before the warnings from the SODAR would require an incinerator shutdown. 

Inside View of Data

The meeting audience viewed the web pages that provide the real-time data from the system. Home computer users can access the same information that the site operators will use at www.drakelock.com.

The web site includes a topographical map of the Lock Haven area showing the wind patterns moving through the area (see page four).

Gregg Crystall, EPA project manager for the cleanup, explained the safety systems that are in place to assure the community that all emergency scenarios have been anticipated. In addition, Crystall stated that all personnel working at the site have received intensive safety training and plans for responding to any contingency have been studied and rehearsed.

All safety issues and notification systems are coordinated with Clinton County and Lock Haven safety officials (see the article on page three).

Drake Situation Reports, which provide continuing information on activities at the site, are available to everyone on the Internet at cub.kcnet.org/Government/drake/.

In the six-and-a-half-hour meeting, EPA officials listened to Lock Haven-area residents and promised to investigate several of their concerns before starting incinerator operations. EPA responses to these questions and concerns have been placed in the three local Information Repositories and at the Drake Community Outreach Center, 184 Myrtle Street.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III Administrator W. Michael McCabe met recently with government officials, community groups and news media from throughout the greater Lock Haven area to brief them on EPA plans and to hear concerns directly from those living near the Drake Chemical Superfund Site. Shown at the Drake Outreach Center, from left, are James Runkle, The Express; John Lipez, WBPZ radio; McCabe; Abe Ferdas, Acting Director of the Hazardous Site Cleanup Division, EPA Region III; John Beauge, Patriot-News; and Dan Adams, Sun-Gazette.

Drake Team Begins Soil Cleanup

At 7:35 a.m. on Wednesday, March 4, 1998, the long-awaited process of cleaning up more than 250,000 tons of contaminated soil began at the Drake Chemical Superfund Site. During the first 24 hours of full-scale operation, 472 tons of soil were processed and cleaned.

SODAR Offers Extra Measure of Safety

In the last issue, Drake Update took a look at the RASS/SODAR systems installed at the Lock Haven Piper Airport and at the Drake Chemical Site to present an overview of this new technology. In this issue, we take a closer look at how the system is being used in managing incinerator operations.

Radio Acoustic Sounding System/Sonic Detection and Ranging (RASS/SODAR) provides a continuous measurement of the weather conditions over the Lock Haven basin and an evaluation of how those conditions may impact the dispersion of any emissions from the incinerator. The system provides hourly evaluations of the weather and its impact on dispersion. The project team can use this information to determine whether to slow down or stop the hazardous soils feed due to the weather conditions. As an additional feature, the Drake RASS/SODAR system provides the public with instant access to the weather information.

EPA and its contractors developed the RASS/SODAR installation in response to long-standing public concerns about weather inversions and stagnations in the West Branch of the Susquehanna Valley and what such weather features would do to incinerator emissions in the atmosphere. As demonstrated in the recent risk assessment, EPA and the independent peer review scientists are convinced that the incinerator's operation will not pose any health or environmental threat to area residents. This system goes beyond risk models based upon historical data by providing real-time assessment and continuous evaluation throughout the incinerator's operation.


In order to adapt the technology to the specifics of Lock Haven, scientists took a traditional meteorological model called CALPUFF and modified it to produce hourly estimates of concentrations. This local application of the computer software has been dubbed the CALDRAKE model.

Another custom application of meteorological science is the development of the Drake Pollutant Index (DPI). This is a composite indicator combining the potential buildup of all pollutants. The DPI establishes an arbitrary value of 1,000, a level that represents a pollutant build up of one-tenth that of human health concern. This DPI figure then gives the project team a simple but composite number for evaluating plant safety in terms of weather conditions. If the DPI measures less than 100, the plant will continue under normal operations. When the DPI value reaches 100, but is less than 1,000, the weather monitoring will be intensified. If the DPI reaches 1,000, which is still well below any conceivable human health concern, plant operators will shut down the contaminated soil feed.

These meteorological tools have been provided to add an additional level of community safety to the incinerator's operation and will be shared with the community on a real-time basis. Using the World Wide Web (at www.drakelock.com ), the output of the RASS/SODAR calculations, including meteorological data, modeling results and a three-dimensional graphic of the local wind field that is updated hourly, is available to anyone with Internet access.

Clinton County Commissioners inspect the Drake incinerator prior to beginning the hazardous soil treatment. Commissioner Miles D. Kessinger and Commissioner Daniel L. Vilello (speaking with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lead project engineer David Modricker, partially hidden in photo) took a thorough tour of the Drake incinerator facility. Tour leaders were Modricker; Michael Ogden, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer; and Gary Jones, OHM Remediation Services Corp. technical manager during the plant's heat-up and checkout period at the end of February.

Area Emergency Services Cooperate, Ready to Respond

The Drake Cleanup Team is committed to the safe treatment of hazardous soil at the Drake Site. To ensure safe operations at the site, the team uses the highest quality equipment, superiorly trained personnel and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Further evidence of the commitment to safety is the team's collaboration with local emergency response officials to ensure the safety all residents in the unlikely event of an emergency at the site.

The 1987 federal Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) mandated that each community throughout the country form a Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) composed of area emergency services (including fire and ambulance), news media, local industry and state agencies overseeing transportation and the environment (e.g., Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection). Clinton County responded to this mandate and has been leading the way for small county emergency services programs ever since.

The Clinton County LEPC works with Rick Goodbrod and Kevin Fanning, the county's Director and Deputy Director of Emergency Services, respectively, to develop the county emergency response plan. This plan coordinates a wide range of services and activities in the event of natural, industrial or transportation disasters. Plan elements include coordination of emergency response personnel, notification to schools and emergency evacuations.

Except for staff from the Clinton County Department of Emergency Services, participation in the LEPC is voluntary. The LEPC is governed by an executive board that meets monthly to monitor emergency planning. Jim Crays, a local environmental technician, is the current chairperson of the executive board. The full committee meets every other month.

In addition to the SARA-mandated initiatives, the Clinton County LEPC also assists small companies and organizations that do not have formal environmental or safety programs in performing environmental audits and in helping them set up workable programs. Clinton County's LEPC has demonstrated throughout Pennsylvania how a small county with a limited tax base can operate an effective emergency program using volunteer talent and donated equipment.

The Clinton County LEPC's commitment to emergency services and recognized caliber in the emergency services arena is a tribute to the people of Clinton County. The Drake Cleanup Team is proud to be working with the Clinton County LEPC to further ensure the safety of the community.

Periodically members of fire, ambulance and other emergency response services from throughout Clinton County tour the Drake Chemical Superfund Site, as well as all larger industrial sites, to stay abreast of conditions that would impact their duties during emergency response calls. Coordinated by the Clinton County Local Emergency Planning Committee, these tours review vehicle access routes, locations of power switches, and gas and chemical valves. On January 31, emergency responders from Lock Haven, Mill Hall, Castenea and other surrounding communities again toured the Drake Site. Here quality assurance manager Tony Garcia briefs the group at the site's liquid oxygen storage facility. The Drake Cleanup Team uses oxygen to improve operating efficiency in the incinerator.

The World Wide Web provides easy access for anyone to monitor wind and weather conditions in the Lock Haven community. One of the displays presents an hourly update on the wind field for the West Branch of the Susquehanna Valley as well as for the Nittany Valley south of Bald Eagle Mountain. This display, as well as several other graphical measures of potential pollutant concentration, can be seen by pointing your Web browser to www.drakelock.com/

EPA Contacts 

U.S. EPA Region III
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
Gregg Crystall (3HS22) 
Drake Team Leader 

David Polish (3HS43)
Community Involvement Coordinator 
215- 814-3327 


184 Myrtle Street i

On-site Outreach Coordinator: George Drumbor

PUBLIC HOURS (Drop-ins invited)  
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
Saturdays, 1st & 3rd, each month: 10:00 - 2:00

Additional hours by appointment  
Community Information HOTLINE: 748-5602

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