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Lock Haven, Pa. - The cleanup of the Drake Chemical Superfund site here is on schedule, reaching the halfway point this week. A team of 180 dedicated scientists, engineers and administrators, working around the clock to insure the health and safety of the community, have kept the cleanup process moving.
The Drake Chemical Superfund site comprises about 11 acres of land that had a chemical manufacturing and processing facility. Due to improper handling and storage methods, chemicals from the plant were spilled, leaked or seeped into the soil. The most hazardous of the chemicals was Beta-naphthyamine, a proven bladder carcinogen. Because of the level of contamination and the volume of soil that had to be cleaned up, on-site soil incineration was chosen as the best treatment method.
To handle the cleanup, a temporary, state-of-the-art incinerator was erected on the Drake property. Since March 1998, the incinerator has processed an average of 630 tons of soil per day. So far, half the soil -- 130,000 tons -- has been incinerated. And, Lock Haven officials are now considering how to return the Drake Chemical property to productive re-use, once all the contaminated soil has been incinerated.
To ensure the safety of the Drake cleanup, an unprecedented series of trial test burns, risk assessments, and actual emissions monitoring have been occurred. Real-time weather telemetry and plume modeling are available on web pages that the community can access.
Preliminary results from a long-term environmental study that analyzes samples of moss and leaves shows no increase in the amount of dioxin that would normally have been found in the area before the incinerator was started.
In addition, daily tests of the treated soil and regular stack emissions tests have confirmed the reliability and safety of the soil cleanup project. Workers receive daily safety briefings along with constant training ensure that the site team performs its duties safely.
Involved in the cleanup are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and OHM Remedial Corporation.