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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: February 1999, Issue #18

City Research Study Seeks Best Use for Drake Site

In early December, the City of Lock Haven commissioned a study that is intended to guide city officials toward improving job opportunities and economic development for the area. Using funds provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the city contracted with the Urban Research and Development Corp. (URDC) of Bethlehem, Pa., to conduct a Reuse Feasibility Study. The study covers the site of the former Drake Chemical Company, the American Color and Chemical Company property, and a parcel of land just east of the Drake property, owned by Castanea Township. The Lock Haven Area Enterprise Zone Committee recommended the project to the City Council.

URDC has begun the first phase of a three-phase contract to propose how these properties, once cleaned of contaminants, can be marketed to produce jobs or other economic revitalization for the Lock Haven area. Each of the later phases will be based upon successful completion of earlier ones. The entire study will be completed about September 1999.

In phase one, UDRC is investigating and collecting data about the properties, economic trends and competing industrial and commercial properties in the area. Consultants will then make recommendations about the feasibility of marketing the properties for reuse and potential uses for the land.

In phases two and three, URDC will recommend marketing strategies and develop marketing tools to help local agencies find interested buyers. Along with these strategies, the firm will advise local governments if infrastructure improvements are warranted. Among marketing tools in the final phase, the consultant will design a full-color brochure aimed at attracting investors.

The State Enterprise Zone Program is funding the estimated $45,000, three-phase project.

Milestones Achieved Despite Bitter Winter Weather

Instead of slowing down for the sub-freezing cold and snow of December and January, the Drake Cleanup Team continued to make steady progress toward completion of this project that will make this once-badly-contaminated property safe once again.

As steady progress continues, the Team is confident that it will complete soil processing by May 1999 and that it will demobilize the incinerator plant over the summer months.

Groundwater Cleanup Advances with Pilot Well Placement

As the end of the incineration phase nears, attention is now shifting to groundwater cleanup the final phase of removing hazards left over from decades of operations at the former Drake Chemical Company site. Groundwater in the area occupies a sandy layer located between 12 feet and about 40 feet below the surface. The groundwater plume is moving slowly toward Bald Eagle Creek.

Point Source Remediation

The Drake soil incineration project is classified as a point source remediation, since the project is removing the source of chemicals that has contaminated groundwater beneath the Drake and nearby properties. While contact with contaminated soil has been a local health issue, the long-term regional threat has always been groundwater contamination. In the past, groundwater could not be cleaned as long as contaminants continued to leach downward through the Drake soils and recontaminate the water. Now, however, the Drake incineration project a point source remediation is removing the source of continued contamination.

Under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Color and Chemical Company (AC&C) has agreed to clean the groundwater system of numerous chemical contaminants that may have originated at either Drake or AC&C. Three of the contaminants (Beta- naphthylamine (BNA), benzene and 1, 2-dichloroethylene) present a significant concern, making them the "signature" chemicals against which groundwater cleanup will be measured.

Two Treatability Studies

A pilot test well is being drilled over the winter that will house equipment for two groundwater treatability studies. In late 1998, in preparation for the pilot studies, several monitoring wells were drilled and instrumentation was installed. After conducting several months of laboratory studies on the water, the testing will then move to the field. The first study will evaluate the capability of air-stripper technology to sufficiently clean the water. Following that test, air-stripper equipment will be replaced with a liquid carbon filtration system, that equipment will then undergo several months of testing. Any necessary approvals or permits will be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection prior to either technology being implemented.

After an engineering review of the two technologies and the testing results, a selection will be made. A series of wells will be drilled, equipment will be installed and the long-term process of cleaning the area groundwater will begin. Pumping and treating groundwater will continue until EPA is convinced that the groundwater remediation phase is complete. After remediation is complete to the operator's satisfaction, EPA will require at least three more years of monitoring before certifying the cleanup is complete.

Recovered Drums Are Sampled Before Disposal (view photo)

During December and January, excavation crews uncovered approximately six dozen old drums containing various materials that had been buried on the Site. Before the contents of these drums can be sent to a permitted hazardous waste disposal site, a sample must be taken from each and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Workers in the photo above are shown collecting these samples. The material is then placed into overpack drums oversized drums that can be sealed to hold the old drums and their contents. Each sealed overpack drum will be stored on the Drake Site until the laboratory analysis of its contents is received. At that point, the contents of drums containing similar materials will be combined in bulk containers for shipment to appropriate disposal facilities.

Original Cleanup Building Removed

The first structure erected by the Drake Cleanup Team also became the first to be dismantled. (view photo) The Team dismantled the fabric-over-framework building during the week before Christmas in order to prepare for excavation of contaminated soil beneath it. From May 1995 until September 1997, this temporary structure housed the site's wastewater treatment plant.

After the risk and trial burns in early 1997 produced a substantial amount of clean, treated soil, this clean soil was backfilled on the Site, supplying the base for a new building. The wastewater plant was moved into the new building in October 1997.

The original building was then modified to house debris-separation equipment. Following the demolition of the original building, debris-separation equipment was moved into the feed-preparation building where it will be used through the project's completion.

Additional Bracing Enables Soil Excavation Near Incinerator

When the incinerator was installed in 1995 on clean, imported material, a barrier of sheet steel plates was inserted into the ground to separate clean material from the contaminated zone. As excavation of contaminated soil approached this barrier, provisions needed to be made so that excavation could continue safely. A method of bracing the sheets was needed so they would not fall onto workers. In mid-January, crews drove 45-foot lengths of "H" beam into the ground to brace and support the steel plates. (view photo) In coming weeks, this bracing will hold the plates in place so all contaminated soil can be removed and clean soil can be backfilled onto the Site. 

Site Tours Available

The Spring Semester is underway at area schools, and many schools again are taking advantage of the opportunity to tour and study the Drake Cleanup Site. Classes in community health, environmental science, geology and related sciences have found this field excursion useful. Instructors and communtiy group leaders who would like to consider either Site tours or classroom presentations are urged to telephone the Drake Community Outreach Center at (570) 748-0872.

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

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: 570-748-5602

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

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