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Press Release

Drake Chemical

1650 Arch Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
Phone - 215/814-5100 Fax - 215/814-5102

EPA Environmental News
April 24, 1999


For further information, contact:
David Polish
EPA, Community Involvement Coordinator

Drake Soil Cleanup Complete; Plant Demobilization Begins

LOCK HAVEN, Pa.; April 24, 1999 - Analytical results for the final batch of Drake soil were received late yesterday, April 23, clearing the way for backfilling the clean soil on the property. Burners on the incinerator kiln and secondary combustion chamber were turned off at approximately 10:15 p.m., allowing the plant to cool down gradually.

"This success," said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) deputy regional administrator for Region 3, Thomas C. Voltaggio, "is the direct result of unprecedented cooperation and dedication among the Drake Cleanup Team."

The Drake team is composed of the EPA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the 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 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 new use for this property which laid unproductive for so many years."

"When we began last March," Voltaggio continued, "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 less than 14 months."

During the combined operations phase and earlier risk and trial burn phase, a total of more than 290,000 tons of material was treated and tested for backfill on the property.

As soon as the incinerator cools, crews will immediately begin the demobilization process, during which time 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.

The Drake Chemical Superfund Site consists of about ten acres of land that hosted a chemical manufacturing and processing facility. Due to improper handling and storage methods, chemicals from the facility spilled, leaked or seeped into the soil. The most hazardous of more than 200 chemicals left on the property was Beta-naphthylamine, a proven bladder carcinogen. Because of the level of contamination and the volume of soil that had to be cleaned, on-site incineration was chosen as the best treatment method.

To handle the planned cleanup, a temporary, state-of-the-art incinerator was erected on the Drake property. Following tests and risk assessments, the incinerator began treating soil on March 4, 1998, and operated around the clock, seven days a week. Once treated, soil was analyzed to assure it met strict health standards before it was placed back on the property.

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.

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.

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

The Drake Team published and distributed a monthly newsletter to more than 11,000 households in the area. A real-time computer display of plant operating characteristics was installed at the local newspaper office 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.

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