Monday, January 24, 2022

DEP To Conduct Hazardous Waste Site Investigation At Erie Coke (Coal) Plant Site In Erie

On January 24, the Department of Environmental Protection’s
Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program will begin conducting further environmental investigation at the former Erie Coke, Inc. property in Erie. 

This investigation is necessary to identify the nature and extent of hazardous substances in soils, sediment, and water at the property in anticipation of its cleanup and reuse. 

In addition, the investigation will help determine the sources of contamination and the extent of risk to the public health, safety, or welfare, or the environment.

The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) provides DEP with the funding and authority to conduct cleanup actions at sites where hazardous substances have been released. 

HSCA allows the DEP to investigate or address contamination in soil, surface water, sediment, and subsurface groundwater. 

HSCA also provides DEP with enforcement authority to force the persons who are responsible for releases of hazardous substances to conduct cleanup actions or to repay public funds spent on a DEP-funded cleanup action.

“DEP is pursuing this site investigation to help identify potential contamination and harmful threats to human health and the environment,” said DEP Northwest Regional Director Erin Wells. “This investigation will provide a solid foundation to guide remediation and future redevelopment at the site.”

With this announcement, DEP has begun the process of engaging DEP-approved contractors to begin the investigation. 

This process includes preparing a scope of work, meeting with the assigned contractor on-site, then having the contractor prepare a work plan and cost estimate for the DEP’s review and approval prior to any investigation activities. 

Additional Background

The Erie Coke Site is located along Lake Erie at the foot of East Avenue in the City of Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania. The site was used for industrial manufacturing from approximately 1833 and operated as a coke production facility from 1925 to 2019. 

In December 2019, the facility ceased operation.  [Read more here.]

In May 2020, the Department of Environmental Protection formally requested involvement from the EPA’s Superfund and Emergency Management Division (Removal). 

Following a Removal Site Evaluation in July 2020, EPA signed their Action Memo which requested and documented approval of a Time-Critical Removal Action for the site, as well as the necessary funding. 

In Fall 2020, EPA initiated response actions intended to mitigate the threat posed to the public health and welfare due to the threatened release of hazardous substances from the Site. 

EPA’s actions are addressing the hazardous substances remaining in tanks, containers and piping posing the most immediate threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.

EPA removal actions will not investigate or manage potential contamination in surface water, soil, and sediment, or subsurface groundwater and soil. 

As a result, PADEP’s investigation will assess the level and extent of contaminants in these media at the Site. This environmental investigation will include sampling of surface water, soil, sediment, and subsurface groundwater and soil.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which began operations on site in September 2020, has removed and disposed of wastes, demolished buildings, recycled appropriate scrap materials, and is actively mitigating risks associated with remaining tanks, containers, and piping posing the greatest threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.  [Read more here.]

EPA’s removal actions at the Erie Coke, Inc. property are to be completed this summer. 

For the DEP’s latest updates throughout the investigation, visit DEP’s Erie Coke (Coal) Plant Site webpage.

[Posted: January 24, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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