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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: October 1998, Issue #14

Drake Cleanup Reaches Halfway Mark

The Drake Cleanup Team continued to make steady progress during September, achieving a level of 50 percent completion on September 21. Half of the soil from this former chemical plant site has been safely cleaned, tested and backfilled onto the property.

While production continues at a rate that satisfies the Team, efforts continue to address opportunities to make the project safer for both the community and workers and to accomplish desired results more efficiently.

As this issue went to press, the Team prepared for a short maintenance period that would occur in early October. This would be a hot hold period, where soil feed to the incinerator is stopped while burners continue to keep the kiln and incinerator heated to near operating temperatures. The major maintenance activity planned for the brief shutdown was the replacement of worn feed screws. The pair of feed screws, each 19 inches in diameter and 22 feet long, deliver contaminated soil into the hot kiln for processing. In mid-September maintenance on the previous set of feed screws succeeded in extending their service life.

Excavation of contaminated soil from the old Drake lagoons continued to uncover large amounts of construction-type debris, much of it placed there following Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. Over the summer the Team refined its debris handling procedures so debris is sorted and processed smoothly and efficiently.

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During a mid-September maintenance period, Drake Cleanup Team workers welded hardened cutting teeth to the incinerator kiln's feed screws. The new cutting teeth successfully extended the feed-screw life, thus postponing feed-screw replacement by several weeks.


The front-page article in the August 1998 issue of the Drake Update stated that some debris is disposed offsite. The debris in question non-porous rock, brick and concrete is first cleaned of any residual soil and then placed into the backfill area beneath clean soil from the incinerator. It is not disposed offsite.

Groundwater Cleanup Program Testing Has Begun

Recently crews drilled a series of exploratory and instrument wells in the area east of the former Drake Chemical plant property, between the Drake Site and U.S. Highway 220. The owners of the American Color and Chemical (AC&C) plant are conducting this work in conjunction with similar well drilling on the AC&C property. Together the drilling activity marks the beginning of the test phase for groundwater cleanup.

Once the soil at the Drake Site is clean, the emphasis will shift to cleaning the groundwater water in a layer 10 to 35 feet below the surface which is contaminated with chemicals from both the Drake and AC&C properties. The AC&C owners, in a separate agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agreed to pump and treat the groundwater in order to remove hazardous chemicals before the materials can migrate east to Bald Eagle Creek.

The groundwater cleanup will be a long-term project, possibly taking 30 years or more to reduce levels of chemicals in the groundwater to a point where they no longer threaten Bald Eagle Creek. A preliminary design incorporating two different cleanup technologies has been completed. Tests that will be conducted this fall will verify the pump-and-treat design and will evaluate the two options.

In one treatment technology undergoing evaluation, water is pumped from the groundwater zone, processed through carbon filters and reinjected into the ground. A second treatment technology will subject groundwater to air stripping before reinjecting it into the ground. For both technologies, the proposed pump-and-treat system is called an in situ system because the entire process takes place underground.

One pump-and-treat test well and a surrounding series of monitoring wells are being installed. The monitoring wells are equipped with sensors to measure groundwater flow patterns to verify that the in situ well recirculates water as planned. In addition, sampling wells for chemical analysis will be used to track changes in chemical concentrations.

The test well will be drilled 45 feet deep with a bore hole diameter of 36 inches. Fitting within this bore will be a 24-inch well casing. Various packing materials surround the casing, isolating the inlet and discharge screens in the well. This will ensure that clean water reinjected into the ground will percolate slowly down through local soils rather than flowing directly back to the inlet.

Once the effectiveness of the in situ well design has been verified and the two technologies evaluated, a final design will be completed. EPA officials anticipate that a full field of production wells can be installed next spring so that pumping and treatment of the area groundwater can begin during the summer of 1999.

EPA Closes LHU Information Repository

Transfers Materials to A.I.R

As the Drake Cleanup Team recently reorganized and updated the local Information Repositories, it also evaluated how often each is used, as well as the burden it places on the repository hosts. As a result, during the first week of October, the Team closed the repository that had been held at Lock Haven University's Stevenson Library. Two repositories in Lock Haven at Ross Public Library and at the Drake Community Outreach Center continue to make Drake documents available to the public for review.

See the August 1998 issue of the Drake Update for a description of the Information Repositories and the Administrative Record file available at each repository.

Materials from the now-closed repository were transferred to the community group, Arrest the Incinerator Remediation Inc. (A.I.R.), to support its programs funded under an EPA Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) to keep the community it represents informed about cleanup progress. See the June 1998 issue of the Drake Update for an article describing the TAG program.

Contractor Employs Mostly Local Workers

The Drake Cleanup Team contractor, OHM Remediation Services Corp., added 23 new employees all locally hired to its workforce at the beginning of September. With these additional workers, more than 70 percent of OHM's 147-person workforce have been hired from the Lock Haven area.

New workers practicing dressingBefore beginning work, the new employees underwent an extensive medical examination and all passed testing against drug and alcohol abuse. Every employee also attended and passed a 40-hour training course for hazardous waste operators. In addition, each passed a 24-hour on-the-job evaluation to ensure they understand and follow proper hazardous-waste procedures.

This newly hired group replaced some crew turnover and expanded the overall workforce to handle additional job scope, especially the sorting and processing of debris. Job specialties represented include equipment operators, mechanics, field technicians and security guards.

Future Use Planning for Drake Property Underway

StackAs cleanup operations approached the 50 percent mark, the Drake Cleanup Team completed a grading and backfill plan for the 10-acre Site. This plan will determine what the Drake Chemical Superfund Site will look like after all cleanup operations are completed and the transportable incinerator and other buildings, trailers and equipment have been removed.

The Site is on a pie-shaped plot, approximately 1,200 feet long on the east and west sides, and 500 feet wide at Myrtle Street. The original design of the cleanup project called for the once level Site to be left in a large sloping mound covered with topsoil and grass, with little potential for any future use. The large mound resulted from bringing clean rock onto the Site to create a clean base on which the incinerator was built.

As the work proceeded, the Team decided to consider alternate grading plans in an effort to provide the Lock Haven area with a viable and productive site. The Team considered a number of possible industrial or municipal uses. Residential or retail uses were not actively pursued due to the Site's location between the railroad and an existing industrial facility, as well as the site's ultimate topography.

The Team reviewed seven possible grading plans and profiles, as well as potential uses associated with each option.

After considering the options, the Team decided that the southern end of the Site would be graded to a mound approximately 35 feet high at its highest point and covered with topsoil and vegetation to prevent runoff and erosion. After the incinerator and other facilities are removed, the north end of the site will be available for productive use. The present concrete slab 1.5 acres in size and the clean stone beneath the concrete will remain. In addition, the two open-sided steel buildings (one 260x120 feet and the other 100x80 feet) will also remain. This area of approximately two acres could then be used as an equipment maintenance and storage facility or another similar use. Also, another approximately two acres of land adjacent to these buildings and bordering Myrtle Street will be graded to nearly level so that this area, too, will be accessible for equipment or material storage.

While some issues remain to be worked out, this grading plan will allow the Lock Haven community to put this once contaminated area back into productive use.

Partner Highlight: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment air, water and land upon which life depends.

In December 1970, Congress created EPA to solve the nation's urgent environmental problems and to protect public health. In those days, the nation's pollution problems were obvious. A dark veil of air pollution hung over many cities. Rivers and lakes could not sustain life, and one even caught on fire. The bald eagle, our national bird and a special treasure in the Susquehanna Valley, was threatened with extinction by unmonitored pesticide use.

For almost 28 years, the nation has made steady progress toward improving the environment. EPA working closely with state, local and tribal governments and the public established a system of public health and environmental protection second to none in the world. EPA's efforts produced impressive, measurable improvements in the environment that have enhanced the quality of life for every American.

EPA's purpose is to ensure that:

The U.S. plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environments. Environmental protection is an integral part of U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry and international trade. These factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy. Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive.

EPA employees are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of the public and the preservation of the environment. At Superfund projects like Drake Chemical, EPA scientists, engineers, biologists, toxicologists, geologists and technicians participate in solving complex problems and challenges. The people of EPA are proud that they are making a difference, ensuring that the air we breath, the water we drink and the earth we live on is safe for us now and in the future.

EPA Contacts

U.S. EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Gregg Crystall (3HS22)
Drake Team Leader

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

184 Myrtle St.
Onsite 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
Thursday: 1:00 - 5:00
Friday: 10:00 - 12:00 and 3:00 - 5:00
Saturdays, evenings and additional hours by appointment

Community Information HOTLINE: 748-5602

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