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Drake Chemical

Fact Sheet: May 1999, Issue #21

Soil Treatment Is Complete; Demobilization Begins

Early in the morning of April 22, the last contaminated soil from this former chemical company property was treated in the Drake incinerator. At 10:15 p.m. on Friday night, April 23, analytical results certified that all treated soil could be safely returned to the property. With that clearance in hand, the Drake Cleanup Team began shutting off the burners on the incinerator.

"This success," said Thomas C. Voltaggio, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) deputy regional administrator for Region III, "is the direct result of unprecedented cooperation and dedication among the Drake Cleanup Team."

The Drake Team is composed of EPA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and OHM Remediation Services Corp., as well as numerous supporting subcontractors and vendors.

Voltaggio went on to say, "Earth Day this year, April 22, was an auspicious event for the Drake project. At 6:09 a.m. that day, the last soil from this former chemical plant site was treated in the incinerator. A second major milestone also took place at the Drake site this week. On April 21, the team completed one full year without a lost-time accident. Such a safety achievement is rare in industrial operations of this sort. This commitment to safety to safety in the workplace and to safety for the local community has been the hallmark of this entire project."

Michael C. Welch, DEP's regional environmental protection manager, added, "The Department is very pleased that this project has been completed successfully. We now need to work to find a beneficial use for this property which laid unproductive for so many years." "When we began last March," Voltaggio said, " we told the community to expect the process to take about 18 months. Through the hard work and dedication of the team, we have been able to safely complete work in just 14 months."

During the combined operations phase and earlier risk and trial burn phase, a total of 295,373 tons of material was treated and tested for backfill on the property.

As soon as the incinerator cooled, crews immediately began the demobilization process, during which the plant will be dismantled, decontaminated and hauled away. Dismantling the incinerator will take about 75 days, while the full demobilization process will take about six months. Before the team departs, the site will be regraded and a vegetative cover will be established. Myrtle Street, which has been closed to traffic during the operations, will be resurfaced and reopened to traffic.

Ensuring the safety of the Lock Haven community throughout the Drake cleanup has been the paramount goal for the Drake Team. To confirm the safety of the cleanup process, the team implemented an unprecedented series of trial test burns and risk assessment studies based on the results of the trial test burns.

Process Safety Confirmed

Only after confirming the safety of the process did the Team begin processing soil in March 1998. The Team continued to verify safety throughout operations by monitoring emissions at the site and throughout the community. Real-time weather telemetry and air plume modeling were used throughout the project to assure that adverse weather conditions would not produce an increased health risk if emissions increased above the norm.

A long-term environmental study that analyzes samples of moss and leaves has shown no increase in the amount of dioxin or heavy metals that had been found in the area before the incinerator was installed. In addition, daily tests of the treated soil and regular stack emissions tests have confirmed the reliability and safety of the soil cleanup project.

Internet Kept People Informed

The weather data and modeling information was made available on Internet web pages that the community could access. Another web site provided daily situation reports and will continue providing news releases and other periodic communications.

The Drake Team published and distributed the monthly Drake Update newsletter to more than 11,000 households in the area. A real-time display of plant operating characteristics was installed at the local newspaper offices where reporters and community residents could monitor incinerator operations as they occurred.

Another part of the safety program involves worker safety. Daily safety briefings along with constant training assured that the people working on the site could perform their duties safely. This attention to safety will continue as the Drake Cleanup Team proceeds with demobilization and restoration of the Site over the next six months.

On April 12, the last contaminated soil was excavated from the Drake exclusion zone. The soil stacked behind the excavator, as well as the remaining soil within the feed preparation building, is held on an impermeable liner covering a base of clean, imported fill material. After this last soil was processed through the incinerator and as the equipment is decontaminated and removed from the area, the liner will be removed, leaving a clean base.

Team Will Decontaminate and Remove Incinerator

Demobilization Will Take Six Months

For more than three years, the Drake incinerator plant has been a prominent feature of the Lock Haven skyline. Visitors entering town on Paul Mack Boulevard could not miss seeing the 150-foot stack, the 120- foot secondary combustion chamber and quench tower, and the 215-foot-long feed preparation building. With soil treatment complete, the Drake Cleanup Team has shifted its focus to demobilization and expects to dismantle these key features by mid-July.

Demobilization describes the total process of taking apart, cleaning and removing all of the equipment that was brought to Lock Haven in order to clean this old chemical plant property.

Several specialized subcontractors, who will perform such tasks as crane and rigging work, and kiln refractory (lining) removal, are augmenting the Drake Cleanup Team. For much of the first two months of intense demobilization, crews will work around the clock, five days a week.

The initial work will include dismantling the steam scrubber and removing the clean soil conveyor systems. This will create access routes so cranes can safely reach several larger plant components. At the same time, crews will dismantle the platform and feed system leading into the kiln, making way for the refractory removal team. In addition, the main control room, which is self-contained in a semi-trailer, will be disconnected and removed.

Within a few days, and while the initial work continues, other crews will begin dismantling the acid gas scrubbers, located at the base of the stack, and associated equipment located in the same general area.

Robot Will Remove Kiln Lining

Once there is access to the kiln face, a subcontractor will bring in a robotic jackhammer to remove the kiln's foot-thick refractory lining. This process will take approximately two weeks. Because of the noise created by the hammer, this work will take place only during daylight hours.

While work goes on within the kiln, cranes will begin dismantling the six bag houses and the evaporative cooling tower. Work will progress around the clock, but for safety reasons, major crane work will occur only during daylight hours.

A few weeks later, work crews and cranes will begin the month-long process of dismantling the hot gas cyclone and the secondary combustion chamber. Again, major crane lifts will be limited to daylight hours.

While cranes perform the heavy lift work on the main incinerator pad, other crews will be dismantling the fabric-covered feed preparation building. A similar project took place just before Christmas, when Drake Team crews dismantled the smaller debris-separation building.

Kiln To Be Trucked Away

About seven weeks after beginning the demobilization, the 60-foot-long, 13-foot diameter kiln will be lifted off its supports and will be readied for transport away from the Site. During the last demobilization phase, equipment will be removed from the feed-preparation building. Water tanks and various utility structures will be taken down at this time.

From the time when the burners are turned off and the incinerator cools down, the process of dismantling the plant is expected to take about 65 to 75 days. Demobilization will continue as dismantled equipment continues to be decontaminated and prepared for transport on trucks.

Research the Environment on the Web

Continuing the reviews begun last month, the Drake Update is providing mini-reviews on World Wide Web resources that may be of interest to students, teachers and others seeking information about environmental topics. The Drake Cleanup Team does not endorse any of these sites, other than those sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); inclusion on this list is offered as a convenience to those beginning research into environmental issues.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hotline, with a toll-free phone 1-800-CLEANUP and website, is a public/private partnership designed to empower Pennsylvania residents with proactive environmental information and programs through a single network. As this program continues to grow, it will expand to include even more community specific information. New links to community specific environmental information and programs will be highlighted here, designed to make it easy for anyone, inside or outside the state, to access information about our state's environmental pollution prevention programs. It is Pennsylvania's component of the larger "Earth's 911" web site: http://earth911.com/Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer

EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds provides a huge store of publicly available about water resources at: http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/

EPA's Envirofacts Warehouse enables the viewer to retreive information from databases covering Superfund, drinking water, toxic and air releases, grants and other topics. Consult this all-purpose resource at: http://www.epa.gov/enviro/index.html

EPA Contacts

U.S. EPA Region III
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

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