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Drake Chemical

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An excavator removes contaminated soil from the grounds of the former Drake Chemical Company. Soil is excavated to a depth of more than 12 feet, then processed through an incinerator, tested and then returned clean to the property. As of mid-November, more than 60 percent of the soil on this 10-acre Site has been successfully cleaned.

Well drilling

Work is underway on groundwater cleanup. The Drake Superfund on-site soil remediation project is cleaning the contaminated soil sitting above the water table. For years, contamination from this soil had been steadily leaching into sub-surface groundwater. Once the Drake soil is cleaned, a separate project takes over as the lead effort in protecting the Lock Haven community. The owners of the former American Color & Chemical (AC&C) plant, in a separate agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will begin the lengthy process of pumping and cleaning the groundwater in the area surrounding the Drake and AC&C properties. In early August a team of well drillers began installing a series of pilot wells, along with testing and monitoring wells, throughout the affected area. Instrumentation placed in these wells is providing data for final pump and treat system design.

Arial view - November 1996

An arial view of the site in late 1996 before the Risk and Trial Burns. Following the risk/trial burns and before production began, a new building was erected in the far left (the area show as excavated in this photo) to house the new waste water treatment plant.

Dr. Charles R. Lee

Moss study finds no change in dioxin levels during Drake incineration.   Dr. Charles R. "Dick" Lee (shown at left, with Clinton County Farm Bureau president David Snook) briefed the Farm Bureau board of directors on Sept. 1 about the latest analysis of data collected from mosses and leaves. According to Dr. Lee, "the incineration of soil does not appear to be adding any measurable quantities of dioxins to the air being monitored with moss bags." Dr. Lee, a soil scientist with the U.S. Army's Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Miss., has been conducting this study since October 1995 along with plant pathology scientists from Pennsylvania State University to determine if soil incineration at Drake is causing any change to the area environment.

Picture of the Day

Two sets of carbon filters (a primary and a backup) comprise the polishing step -- the final step in which any remaining contamination is removed from water before it is discharged to Bald Eagle Creek under provisions of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

A water treatment technician

A water treatment technician tests the pH value (acid strength) of waste water being treated in the three-chamber reactor tank. The agitator, or mixer, in the forground stirs the tank to blend in the additives being pumped in from the units just in front of the technician.

Rainwater in sediment ponds

Rainwater, along with excess process water, collects in sediment ponds within the contaminated zone. It is pumped, from the inlet at the island at the far end of the pond, at rates as high as 4,000 gallons an hour into the waste water treatment building at the far right.

A pair of new feed screws

A pair of new feed screws has been attached to the feed hopper and is awaiting reinstallation of the cooling water jacket before the assembly is reinserted into the kiln. The end of the screws will be set at the mouth of the kiln, just below the gas burners where the screws deliver soil into the kiln for heating.

Replacement of worn feed screws.

A major work activity during the late-July maintenance cycle is the replacement of worn feed screws. The pair of feed screws deliver up to 1,000 tons a day of contaminated soil into the incinerator kiln. Here, Drake Cleanup Team workers, wearing appropriate clothing to protect against residual contamination, begin removing the feed screw drive gears using an overhead crane to support the load.

Cleaning a rock

Drake Cleanup Team worker uses a high-pressure water spray to remove contaminated soil from a large boulder, at the Lock Haven, PA-Superfund remediation project. Once cleaned this rock will be added to the two-foot-thick rock buffer zone which is placed at the bottom of the excavation, before treated and tested clean soil is backfilled onto the property.

Application of Rusmar foam Application of Rusmar foam

Application of Rusmar foam (an odor-supressant) to the face of the excavation in an area where numbers of full drums and drum carcasses are being recovered.

West view of the Drake site

The Drake site from the west, showing the steam plumes from both the main stack and from the scrubber stack.

Scrubber fan housing

An overhead view of the scrubber fan housing, with one intake duct and the stack visible, as seen from atop the ash drop bin.

Billowing steam

Excess steam billowing from beneath the roof of the fly ash building.

Ash drop bin and scrubber

A ground-level view of the ash drop bin and the scrubber unit with the fly ash building in the background.

Ash drop bin, scrubber and stack

The ash drop bin, scrubber and  scrubber stack viewed from the TDF pad

Application of ConCover (r)

Application of ConCover (r), a paper mache-like mulch which hardens into a crust to retard wind and water erosion from the stockpile.

Air monitoring technicians

Drake air monitoring technicians record data as they turn on the pump that will draw air through a filter to collect a 24-hour sample.

Tank truck

A Praxair Inc. tank truck delivers liquid oxygen to the Drake Site, where it helps ensure that kiln burners run efficiently.

Vaporizer fins

Vaporizing liquid oxygen produces frost on the vaporizer fins and often creates local fog.


Students from East Lycoming School District, Hughesville, with their instructor Robert Shelinski (at far right), visited the Drake Site in late October for a presentation and tour. This class of high school students is studying environmental science for advanced placement college credit. Leading the tour was U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lead project engineer David Modricker (in vest). Other school groups visiting Drake during October included Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pa.), Hartwick College (Oneonta, N.Y.) and health education faculty from Williamsport Area High School. In addition, the Drake Cleanup Team made a presentation to the Kiwanis Club of Lock Haven and hosted a tour for interested local residents. During November tours have been given to student groups from the Pennsylvania State University, Lock Haven University and Bucknell University. The Team also made classroom presentations at Loyalsock Township High School near Williamsport.

Emergency Responders training

In late October, emergency responders from Lock Haven, Clinton County, Jersey Shore and several other local communities joined Drake Team workers for their annual hazardous materials refresher course. David Mummert, OHM's director of health and safety, conducted this class held at Lock Haven Hospital. Mummert, a certified industrial hygenist based in Ohio, was brought in as part of the Drake Team's commitment to providing hazardous materials training to local responders as well as to its own workers.

First erected structure being dismantled

The first structure to be erected by the Drake Cleanup Team became the first to be dismantled. From May 1995 until September 1997, this temporary structure housed the site's wastewater treatment plant. After the wastewater plant was moved into a new building built on clean soil (visible in distance directly behind the original), this building was converted to house debris separation equipment. With the Team now needing to excavate and clean the soil beneath this building, workers dismantled it during the week prior to Christmas. Debris separation has been moved into the feed preparation building.

Snowy soil excavation

In spite of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, Drake Cleanup Team workers continue to excavate soil and process it through the onsite incinerator. Cleanup at this former chemical plant site has surpassed the 75% mark. (Jan. 11, 1999)

Feed preparation building

In early December, workers cleared space in the feed preparation building so debris separation equipment could be moved into the same building.

New silo

A new silo was installed and placed into service during December. It allows the Drake Team to purchase lime in bulk, producing a significant savings over purchases of sacked lime. Small quantities of lime are mixed with soil to control moisture in the soil being fed into the incinerator.

Picture of the Day

Jan. 14, 1999 -- While snow and sleet closed area schools, government offices and some businesses, the Drake Cleanup Team continues to process and clean soil from this former chemical plant site. On Jan. 13, the team completed successful cleaning of 80 percent of the soil from the site.

Artist's rendering

An artist's rendering visualizes the appearance of the Drake property, once the soil incineration is complete and the incinerator plant has been removed. Current plans call for decontaminating the two ash handling buildings and leaving them on the site. These large industrial structures have considerable value and will enhance the value of the property for future industrial or commercial use. The mound of clean soil will be concentrated in the narrow southern end of the property and will be seeded with plant cover.

Contaiminated soil screening

Contaminated soil is screened to an appropriate size (no clumps larger than a golf ball) within the feed preparation building, prior to the soil being incinerated. Shown here, an excavator operator has just dumped a bucket load of soil into the sizing screen's hopper. At left, the sized soil exits the screen and drops from a conveyor belt into another hopper (below the viewer's level). Another conveyor will take the soil from the second hopper to the incinerator kiln.

Dr. John Simmers

Dr. John Simmers, a research biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg, Miss., retrieves a rack of moss bags from a tree limb in Castanea Township, during the February 1999 collection cycle. Moss bags are put out at eight locations every 55 days to measure whether Drake emissions impact plant life in the region. The Drake incinerator stack is visible in the distance.


A subcontractor crew uses high-pressure, hot-water spray to cut through the accumulated ice and frost on the liquid oxygen evaporator, in preparation for dismantling and removing the liquid oxygen storage system. Over almost 14 months of Drake operation, liquid oxygen, at about 300 degrees below zero, warmed up to create oxygen gas within this evaporator. Humidity in the outside air condensed and froze on the evaporator vanes, much as it does on a refrigerator's coils.

Tank removal

Within days of completing soil treatment at the Drake incinerator, crews began dismantling portions of the plant. The first visible progress occurred at the liquid oxygen supply pad. Here on April 29, riggers removed the four liquid oxygen tanks and placed them on trucks to be taken away.

Building dismantlement

On May 11, Drake crews began dismantling the 215-foot-long feed-preparation building. During cleanup operations, this building held a stockpile of contaminated soil. Within the building, large clumps of soil were broken apart so the soil could be effectively treated in the incinerator.

Incinerator stack

With cables from a crane securely attached to the top of the Drake incinerator stack, riggers remove the bolts that held the top section so the stack section could be lowered to the ground. May 25, 1999.

Picture of the Day

The last towering component of the Drake Chemical Superfund incinerator began to come down Wednesday, June 9, when riggers removed the 58,000-pound crossover section that linked the secondary combustion chamber (in the rear) with the evaporative cooler (in the front). These two towers stood over 120 foot high.

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