Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kanjorski and Eachus Wrong on Dredge Issue- Crying Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

In recent days Paul Kanjorski and Todd Eachus have undertaken a co-ordinated partisan attack on the City of Hazleton and Mayor Lou Barletta. Eachus used taxpayer dollars to send a franking piece concerning the Hazleton Creek Properties reclamation project. He claims "I sent a letter to Secretary John Hanger requesting the permit be delayed unitl the people of our community had a chance to learn more about the health and public safety issues. Kanjo likewise sent a letter to Secretary John Hanger to reject Hazleton Creek Properties new permit application.

Here is a link to testimony and conclusions about the original dredge project that has been mischaracterized to the public by Eachus purely for partisan reasons. Mr. Eachus why are you unnecessarily employing scare tactics against your constituents?

Council Comment: There is clearly a need to promote remediation of past abuses in the area and promote new economic development. While no testimony was presented regarding Earth Conservancy, we note that when it was first created, there was much controversy and suspicion regarding its true nature and intent; similarly, some of the activities being conducted by CAN DO have met with opposition and suspicion.

In May 2005, Hazleton unveiled its proposal for Cranberry Creek, which includes a proposed $45-million open-air performing arts amphitheater. The project site is on280 acres of spoiled mine land southwest of the city. The site was home to two former landfills. Construction is planned to start in 5 years.

The plan is to reclaim the project area with Delaware River dredge mixed with cement and limekiln dust and alkaline coal combustion ash (fly ash). The use of dredge material and coal ash for land reclamation was successfully demonstrated during the Bark Camp Demonstration Project in Clearfield County.7 Based on the data produced at Bark Camp, Council feels that, with proper management and oversight, the use of dredge material and fly ash for reclamation can be an effective, safe and environmentally responsible option for addressing Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine reclamation needs. Dredge to be used for reclamation must undergo a 3-step sampling protocol; the dredge must be tested (1) before it leaves the
holding basin; (2) when it is received on-site; and (3) after it is mixed with other materials before it is placed. The dredge must meet standards that are 10% more stringent than the most conservative Act 2 standards to ensure that there is no migration to groundwater through the soil-to-water pathway.

The capacitors referred to in the testimony were identified in a newspaper article as pre-1979 electrical capacitors. They are stamped “Eleven,” identified by the EPA as a brand name for now-banned PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, listed by EPA as probable human carcinogens), and are leaking a black, smelly liquid. According to the article, a man who worked for a firm that was contracted to cover the capacitors with dirt said the area is full of them, plus garbage and barrels of chemicals. He said the area is also full of metal cylinders where borehole testing was done.

DEP has stated that the sources of the capacitors and some of the other wastes dumped on the site have been identified, and commitments have been made to remove them. Site assessment data indicates that there is little concern for continued groundwater contamination from these materials since most of the chemicals have already been flushed out through the Jeddo Tunnel.

On August 19, 2005, DEP inspected the area and took samples. No contamination was detected, and DEP shared that information with Messrs. Magill, Kaufman and Yurick. On August 24, DEP held a public information meeting on Hazleton’s proposed reclamation project; the meeting focused on the application submitted by Hazleton Creek Properties LLC of Kingston, Luzerne County, to use river dredge, cement kiln dust, lime kiln dust, coal ash and cogeneration ash for the reclamation project. On October 5, 2005, DEP approved a general permit for the company’s land reclamation project.

In December 2005, the Hazleton Redevelopment Authority and Hazleton Creek
Properties LLC signed a consent order and agreement (COA) with DEP detailing cleanup requirements under the state’s Land Recycling Program. The COA establishes cleanup standards for contamination or other environmental problems encountered during redevelopment. The agreement also details the removal of capacitors found on site and cleanup of any contaminated soils under the supervision of EPA.

Substantial oversight is required to allay concerns that new players and new techniques will only bring new problems to add to the existing ones. Many of the issues being raised are addressable through good planning, proper management and open communication.

DEP responses to Ms. Deakos’ questions are as follows:
• Under Act 2, the current owner is not responsible for any cleanup of the site as long as it does not pose a threat off site. Similarly, the City of Hazleton is not involved with the Act 2 cleanup and has no obligations to “clean up the site and be liable for any future health problems.”

• DEP observed the initial removal action and has made regular visits to the site to ensure the area remains secure. Additional capacitors and impacted soil are awaiting removal once a contract bid is approved. EPA has the overall lead on the PCB issue, and DEP has been coordinating with them.

• The state is not requiring the use of fly ash/dredge at the site; the Hazleton Redevelopment Authority and the Hazleton Creek Properties LLC want to use these materials under the Special Industrial Agreement.

• This project is being administered by DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine
Reclamation (BAMR). BAMR has evaluated surface water flow and potential
impacts and designed the project to handle the surface water runoff and not cause flooding. Future permits needed for development of the site will also evaluate surface water flow and drainages.

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