delaware riverkeeper urges residents to take action and act now on toxic bishop tube!

Hot off the presses from The Delaware Riverkeeper!  The Delaware Riverkeeper is urging residents to act now, and send letters as per below instructions to state officials – elected and appointed.

Dinniman’s West Chester office is 610-692-2112 and his fax is 610-436-1721

Dinniman’s Harrisburg office is 717-787-5709 and his fax is 717-787-4384

Milne’s Malvern office is 610-251-1070 and his fax is 610-251-1074

Milne’s Harrisburg office is 717-787-8579 and his fax is 717-787-1295

HERE IS A SAMPLE LETTER YOU CAN PERSONALIZE AND SEND TO DINNIMAN OR MILNE WHICH ANOTHER RESIDENT HAS GRACIOUSLY SHARED:

BishopTube…Sample Letter

East Whiteland has a meeting this week where Bishop Tube will be discussed- Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:30 PM. It is the Planning Commission. Same meeting room as the Zoning and Board of Supervisors. 209 Conestoga Road, Frazer, PA 19355.

Residents need to pack the boardroom again. I know, I know it’s like a part time job but it is important that every board hear residents with their own ears, and you have a finite amount of time to be heard.

save thornbury farm!

Photo courtesy of Thornbury Farm

Today I learned I was the darling new topic of conversation of a talk radio host, and I thought well if they are going to talk about this blog, maybe they can talk about this blog wanting folks to help our farmers at Thornbury Farm, right? Maybe they can ask their listeners in Chester County and elsewhere to help Thornbury Farm or one can only hope, right? The media could really help these folks right now by talking this up, right?

Thornbury Farm is located on Route 926 and S. New Street on Thornbury Rd in West Chester. (you know a stone’s throw from where Toll Brothers wants to destroy Crebilly Farm?)

After the recent snow/ice/wind event, Thornbury Farm experienced some awful damage from the weather.  Their greenhouse/hoophouse collapsed because of the snow.  I have friends who own a very large nursery concern in Massachusetts and I am familiar with what they have to do during the winter to keep snow from collapsing their greenhouses.  Sometimes the timing is off and you do not get to things in time.  The result is the photo you see above and this is really expensive to rectify.

Friends of Thornbury Farm and the Spackman family have put up a GoFundMe page to help our neighbor farmers at Thornbury defray the costs, the seriously steep costs of correcting what Mother Nature has done here.

Please, they are an over 300 year old still working farm.  They are super nice people who do a lot for the community.  The weight of the snow was too much for the poor greenhouse. The snow has caused about $8,000 in damages and they have crops to be planted in the next three weeks, their heirloom tomatoes. This is literally live or die time.

One of the Thornbury chickens 🙂

Some folks have rolled up on Thornbury Farm’s Facebook Page and been downright mean to these people about the greenhouse.  It is a high tunnel greenhouse made by Farm Tek designed for this area’s snow load. This was an unusually heavy snow load. These are structures actually used in Alaska. It just did not hold. The weight was too great.

So all of you people out there near and far who love organic produce and locally produced produce? Please help these farmers save their farm and get a replacement greenhouse in time to get their crops started at the right time.  They depend on these crops to keep the farm going.

In Chester County our farmers support us every day with their goods and services.  Please help these farmers with a small donation – every little bit helps. Please pay it forward.

Save Thornbury Farm https://www.gofundme.com/save-thornbury-farm

If you prefer to call them and/or send a check or money order:

Thornbury Farm
1256 Thornbury Rd
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 793-2933
Thornbury can be found on the web via their Facebook page and website.

Thornbury Farm was founded in 1709 with a stone house. The “main house” is the first quarried home in Pennsylvania and was built using the property’s own quarry. On this location, there stood a log cabin that was built in the 1600’s. The original owner was a blacksmith who used the abundant limestone to make flux in an old lime kilm.

The house was added to approximately every 80 years. The serpentine adition with its main stair case was used as the first public library in Chester County. In the mid 1800’s, a kitchen was added with a beehive oven. The oven doors still exist and this room eventually became a dining room. Finally, a modern kitchen was added in the 1940’s.

Over the years, other buildings were added including a large stone spring house, a bank barn in 1740 and another farm house in 1812. The 1812 house and the main house were later used as stops on the Underground Railroad.

The Farm is the site of the final troop engagement of the Battle of Brandywine, the largest land battle of the American Revolution. It was during this battle that our flag was displayed and fired upon by the British for the first time. All of the generals were visible to each other and each side suffered heavy losses and casualties.

During the battle, soldiers from the Continental Army had run up the farm’s stream to avoid a crushing pincer movement by the German Hessian soldiers. Instead, the Americans became trapped between the Hessians on South New Street and the English on the other side of the stream. So many Americans were shot and bayonneted, it was said the blood flowed over two miles to the Brandywine.

 

Another one of my Thornbury Farm photos. Love this place !

slow news cycle today?

It  must be a slow news day if a radio talk show host can go from trying to connect with an almost 80 year old woman over her opinion on Villanova’s bridge and crosses to trying to hunt me as her friend and blogger….over something that she and I both talked about March 1st?

A recap: my friend  is a senior citizen and a grandmother.  She gives more to her community in a year via her generosity of doing than most people give in a lifetime.  Her comment about the bridge was that perhaps a more ecumenical approach to the bridge was better in today’s world.  She also had the thought of why couldn’t the crosses be more subtle, carved into the stone piers (bas relief) instead of challenging everyone over a public road.

Because my friend was interviewed by some media and expressed her opinion publicly, albeit very gently and politely, she has been demonized and vilified. Publicly, including in the media.  So I decided to express my First Amendment Rights – I wrote about how I felt on Ash Wednesday.

Simply put, I agreed with my elderly friend. To me it seemed to be a common sense solution.  I expressed my opinion about two weeks ago and today, much to my surprise and endless amusement here I was enjoying a cup of coffee this morning and my phone starts to explode—- “they are talking about your blog on the radio.

At first I asked “Michael Smerconish is talking about my blog?”  Except for listening to a talk radio guy I thought was really cool somewhere in the Lehigh Valley on the topic of eminent domain for private gain years ago, I don’t listen to talk radio, with the exception of Michael Smerconish once in a while, and even that has not been in the realm of recent.

So two friends who do listen to talk radio called after that – “1210 AM. Dom Giordano is talking about your blog.”

Ok my first response was puzzlement and “why????”  Then I laughed.Well…dayyyumn. You know your blog is widely read when they start talking about it on a talk radio show…and you also know it is a slow news cycle if they are talking about your blog on talk radio.

So I have heard of this guy Dom.   But I don’t listen to him. Rush Limbaugh and Limbaugh lite aren’t my cup of tea.

But this morning, I am a topic of conversation. With all the news regionally and in this country, I am a topic of conversation? This subject is a continued topic of conversation?  I tuned in out of curiosity and amusement part of the way through. Because that post expressing my opinion on a regional news story that is now old news a couple of weeks later. (I did not think anyone was still talking about it, truthfully.)

Then I swear I hear this radio host say how he was trying to connect with me to discuss my perspective? Does he have a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge to sell me too LOL? And he’s not interested in my opinion in the least. Let’s be real, I am just a daily dose of cannon fodder, so why would that be something of interest to me? I don’t need to be on the radio. The radio to me is for music on WXPN. Or KYW1060 for traffic reports when you are stuck in traffic somewhere. Or NPR  or WHYY because they are intelligent and have diverse programming.

Also, no one reached out to me.  He did reach out to my almost 80 year old friend a couple of weeks ago, and well, she did not respond.  So because an almost 80 year old woman didn’t want to be his talk show victim, why not try with her friend who shares a similar opinion and is a blogger?

To clarify one of his comments I think was directed towards me, I do not live on the Main Line.  I live in Chester County.  And people who do live on the Main Line who have opinions that differ from his or anyone else’s on this topic are not bad people.  They just have a different opinion.

Sorry, but no. I expressed my opinion March 1st, 2017.  But thank you so much for promoting my blog!  That was so super kind of you! I love my blog too!

As a talk show host, he has his audience he caters to, I get that.  But does it make him feel better as a man to try to belittle women who share a different opinion on a topic? The honorable opposition I can respect but this?  It’s kind of sad…but again thank you SO much for promoting my blog!  If you like to cook and garden I write about that a lot!

Hugs and kisses Dom! Thanks for the free publicity!

 

the delaware riverkeeper opines on bishop tube to east whiteland zoning hearing board

In advance of the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board hearing continuation which will occur on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM at East Whiteland Township 209 Conestoga Road, Frazer, PA 19355 unless it gets rescheduled due to weather please see letter sent to the Zoning Hearing Board – YES that is a year typo in the letter, it happens. (Also read about Bishop Tube on Delaware Riverkeeper website HERE)

East Whiteland residents are so incredibly fortunate that Maya the Delaware Riverkeeper has taken an interest here (letter uploaded here to this website Delaware Riverkeeper Network ZHB letter 3.15.17 DRN comment with Attachments ).

Don’t just take my word, or the word of in many cases ill former Bishop Tube workers or General Warren Village residents, take the word of EXPERTS.

Bishop Tube is a site that could be redeveloped, but in my personal opinion with much less density AND after serious not minimal remediation, but again why not check with experts who are obviously concerned with this? Read what the expert says in the letter above…

Hey media, what are you waiting for?  Maybe you all can get the DEP to come out of the shadows here? I still do not understand what it is they have actually done and what they are supposed to do? And why hasn’t more clean up been done since they announced they were watching it? Isn’t that like the DEP is looking the either way?

And again…..just so we are clear – I am not adverse to the site being developed with following caveats: (1) much less density and preferably a different and non-residential use (2) AFTER a lot more remediation than has been discussed – as in not just the soil being removed and replaced but dealing with the groundwater issues, right?

Also, for once the residents of General Warren should be taken into consideration, shouldn’t they? And the potential health, safety, and welfare of potential future residents?

One General Warren resident said the other day:

Just hiked the stream between Bishop Tube and General Warren Village. Our township officials need to go back and seriously look at what they are considering before approving.
All the promises by the township that Village Way will be nothing more than “emergency access” are likely alternative facts. Not like a bed of stone will be laid to provide this access. They will build a bridge. I really do not believe that type of investment will be made and not used.  Maybe the township needs to consider access coming off of Three Tun Rd and coming in behind the oil company. The train bridge going into BT is posted 12’10” built in 1915 and visually crumbling. I can’t imaging how they will get in the equipment to tear down BT under that bridge or any other large construction equipment. Sure 2 vehicles can pass under this bridge but what about the 500/600 people who end up living back in there, how will they walk to the Giant? I didn’t measure but I can’t imaging a sidewalk under the bridge. Build your development and keep the Village out of it. Stop the bridge into Village Way.

Someone responded to that resident with:

What also cracks me up, because you know this won’t be in the brochure, I read in some document they are planning to put some type of vapor chimney in the units. Not for our common Radon issue, but for any other vapor release from the chemicals left in the ground at Bishop Tube. WTH???

Another resident said elsewhere:

We need it cleaned up right before building starts and that includes the groundwater below where the TCE now is !

There has also been a lot of chatter about the developer leaving if they do not get zoning variance but does zoning variance get groundwater remediation, etc???  I think the developer will get the variance in the end.  I see it getting set up for a softball in the meeting replay of the recent supervisors’ meeting.  But when Bill Holmes said it isn’t the end of it, he is right BUT residents with standing (General Warren) have to keep going to meetings because that is HOW you will get the site cleaned and get DEP to move.

I have to be honest that while I have issues with the developer and serious issues with the density of the development plan (even if it wasn’t being built on a toxic waste dump of a land parcel), where the issues never abate and concerns continue to grow is with the Pennsylvania DEP.  They are the constant from day 1 with Bishop Tube. So that being said, residents need to go to meetings and call the DEP (717) 783-2300 is the main number in Harrisburg.    (484) 250-5900 is the number to the Southeast regional office in Norristown.  And keep calling State Senator Dinniman’s and State Rep Duane Milne’s offices too.

WATCH THE EAST WHITELAND MEETING – [CLICK HERE]  Start watching somewhere around 20 minutes in. Are supervisors prepared to cave no matter what the risks to current and future residents? And DEP? Where is the DEP…..thank goodness for Environmental Action Committee because they at least seem to be in the residents’ corner, right? Seriously, does East Whiteland need Erin Brocavitch?

The PA DEP seems to say a lot about what they will not do, but I ask about what they should have been doing all along?  Anderson Hartzell is the acting director of PA DEP in our area now, but no one has ever clarified the rather mysterious and abrupt departure of Cosmo Servidio in the fall?  And remember how Limerick residents complained about the PA DEP being slow to act in 2010?

Limerick residents blast DEP for slow action against pollution (Video)

By Evan Brandt, The Mercury POSTED: 05/17/10, 12:01 AM EDT|UPD

LIMERICK – Residents of more than 45 homes whose wells have been polluted by twin underground plumes of pollution packed the township meeting room to hear how the state is handling the crisis.

Residents complained about the slow pace of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in dealing with the pollution problem that was detected as early as the 1980s and more recently in 2002.

To date, wells tested at 47 homes have been found to have chemical contamination. The homes are in the vicinity of South Limerick Road, Springford Road and West Linfield-Trappe Road….

Last week, The Mercury reported that another groundwater contamination site has been identified by the DEP. Called the Landis Creek Site, the contamination has been found in eight wells near the intersections of Country Club Road and Ridge Pike and Township Line Road and Graterford Road.

The contaminant at the Landis Creek Site is trichloroethylene, or TCE, which is recognized as a carcinogen in California and considered a potential carcinogen by several federal agencies, including the EPA.

Now in Missouri in 2016 a company was awarded $20 million “for exposing a 27-year-old woman to a toxic chemical that has left her with permanent disabilities, according to online court records….At age 14 in 2002, Kirk was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. Testimony at the trial revealed that the disease was caused by trichlorethylene, also known as TCE. The chemical, a known carcinogen, was used by the manufacturer of ball bearings to clean metal parts.”

TCE is what everyone is talking about at Bishop Tube.  As per a lawyer in Nebraska’s website:

People who have worked in degreasing operations have the highest risk of exposure to TCE. Exposure to the chemical can happen by breathing, touching, or drinking/eating. People who use TCE as a solvent may breathe significant amounts of the compound. Since TCE evaporates quickly, people who shower or bath in contaminated water may breathe the vapors, as well. TCE can be absorbed through the skin. Individuals who don’t use solvent-resistant gloves while using the compound may face exposure. Groundwater can be contaminated once TCE is released into the soil, thus anybody who drinks from a well may be exposed.

Unfortunately many industrial companies use and have used Trichloroethylene for decades without properly supplying their employees with proper education about the chemical or proper safety training or protective measures to prevent all the devastating problems associated with Trichloroethylene exposure.

Potential Health Effects of TCE

Some health effects may occur immediately or shortly after inhaling air that contains more than 50,000 parts per billion by volume of Trichloroethylene. These include:

  • Heart problems including cardiac arrhythmias;
  • Serious liver injury;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation.
  • Dizziness, headache, neurological problems; and

Although TCE has not been specifically linked to certain effects in humans, studies have shown that animals exposed to high levels of the compound may develop problems such as:

  • Cancer (including liver, kidney, lung, brain, soft tissue, testicular tumors, and leukemia)
  • Heart defects in offspring when mother was exposed to TCE
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease (six times greater than that of non-exposed subject)

Read an old article from 1989 from the Washington Post called Forging a Covenant of Silence . Here is an excerpt:

WEBSTER, N.Y. — There are three vacant houses on the 600 block of Salt Road in this community east of Rochester, and those who live on the street wonder why their neighbors moved out and no one else has moved in. “All of a sudden I saw a moving van moving one family out,” said Ray Gerber, who lives several hundred feet north of the cluster of empty houses, now owned by Xerox Corp. “I worry about it.” “We’re in the dark,” said Grace Krasucki, another Salt Road resident. The empty houses — the result of a secret and costly legal battle — stand as a testament to the growing use of secrecy procedures in the nation’s civil courts and how that secrecy is hampering efforts by scientists and health officials to learn more about hazardous chemicals and their effects….In the fall of 1984, construction workers at the Xerox complex discovered discolored water during excavation. Xerox later learned that 63 pounds of trichloroethylene (known as TCE), a solvent used in cleaning and lubricating machinery, had leaked over a period of years from four underground storage tanks…. In addition to faulting Xerox for the TCE contamination, attorneys for the families alleged that their clients’ health had been affected by airborne emissions from the plant. According to sources familiar with the case, tests in the houses showed traces of a TCE derivative in the basements and the sump pumps. They also showed residues of two other toxic chemicals, styrene and selenium, in the soot that coated lawn furniture, the walls of their homes and their car windows.

 

I would be curious if the builder on this (Benson) actually has brownfield development experience? And wow check out the Google reviews.  Not positive but then again these are the people who said let us build townhouses behind Linden Hall and we will restore Linden Hall, right? And what happened?  Sold the land with approved plans and Linden Hall just sits and continues to rot, right? And then there is that whole thing brewing in Tredyffrin about Howellville, right? And the whole Kimberton Meadows saga which seems to persist?

Here – Kimberton Meadows saga worth reading about if they are slated to be builders of Bishop Tube’s new lemming village:

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting February 3, 2015

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting March 1, 2016

East Pikeland Township Board of Supervisors Meeting April 5, 2016

Kimberton Meadows Residents Go Before Board Again

The group of homeowners says the development is not moving forward.

By September 13, 2011 1:22 pm ET

Residents are begging the  East Whiteland supervisors for help.  But why is a steep slopes variance for a cram plan the only solution? The groundwater. How will the development address that? How does East Whiteland know for sure what TCE will do?  The answer is they do not. East Whiteland your obligation is to your residents FIRST.  

Here is an excerpt from the letter sent by the Delaware Riverkeeper that stands out:

….As you know, the intent of the sleep slope protections identified in § 200-57 “is to protect hillsides and their related soil and vegetative resources, thereby minimizing adverse environmental effects” including providing protection from “inappropriate development, such as excessive grading, landform alteration, and extensive vegetation removal”, “[a]voidance of potential hazards to life and property and the disruption of ecological balance that may be caused by increased runoff, flooding, soil, erosion and sedimentation, blasting and ripping of rock, and landslide and soil failure,” “[p]rotection of the entire Township from uses of land that may result in subsequent expenditures for public works and disaster relief and adversely affect the economic well-being of the Township,” “[e]ncouragement of the use of steep and very steep slopes for open space and other uses that are compatible with the conservation and protection of natural resources.”

Granting a variance to Constitution Drive Partners from the steep slow variance would undermine all of these goals. The site is significantly contaminated and borders Little Valley Creek, tributary to Valley Creek, an exceptional value stream. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is concerned that the level of land disturbance proposed, including on the steep slopes for which variance is sought, on this site given the high level of continuing contamination, poses both health risks and will result in ecological damage, including to the Little Valley Creek, will result in future costs to the township to respond to the degradation, and is not otherwise compatible with conservation.

As discussed by Dr. Tom Myers in the attached report:

“Developing this site would expose the existing contamination to wind and rain which would cause it to erode and pass downstream or downwind where it would contaminate additional areas. Also, much of the contamination would remain in place, especially in groundwater and soils outside of the targeted excavation zone. Other than the additional contamination caused by water and wind erosion, this residential development and remediation will expose substantial amounts of contamination that would be left in place to increased erosion. The development would not contribute substantially to the necessary remediation of downstream and downgradient resources.”

Constitution Drive Partners wants to do a partial cleanup so it can develop the property, make lots of money, and walk away. Leaving dangerous amounts of contamination still at the site to contaminate groundwater, Little Valley Creek, Valley Creek, and any communities that are on the receiving end of that contamination as it makes its way to soil, air and water.

Constitution Driver Partner’s responses to DEP questions and concerns regarding their proposal demonstrates a disregard for the environment that is troubling, to say the least.

 

crebilly in the snow

Sigh….isn’t this just beautiful? A friend of mine was kind enough to snap this today and send it to me. I thought I would post it along with a link to a letter another friend of mine wrote to Toll Brothers recently.

No developer can replicate this pastoral beauty or view. They can only steal it for development. And will the future residents of a McMansion Farm even appreciate a view like this? Doubtful. Those people aren’t even allowed to garden the way they want (if they were gardening types to begin with.)

This is what the Robinsons are sacrificing on the altar of soulless development. I still don’t get it. If my legacy was land like this with amazing views, purpose AND history, I would fight to preserve it. But I am guessing these folks are sadly different? They seem to be missing the gene that allows them to do great things – you know like Frolic Weymouth did his whole life and the recent generosity of the Haas family with regard to their estate in Villanova?

#NoMoreTollberhoods

#SaveCrebilly

calling erin brockovich?

Now that got your attention, didn’t it? Calling Erin Brockovich?

Is that what Bishop Tube needs to get to the truth of that site?

I am waiting to see the meeting recording and for those in attendance to send me notes, but here are the comments of someone who was there, someone who spoke, and most importantly? Someone who worked there.

You see the people who worked there literally know where the proverbial, in this case chemical, bodies are buried.  They also say dead men tell no tales except people talk about all of the time what happened to people who worked at Bishop Tube, lived next to Bishop Tube, worked around the TCE and whatever else at Bishop Tube, right?

So here, read these words. They are not my words. They are a powerful first hand account- when East Whiteland posts their meeting video (here is the channel of past meetings) it will be added to the post so it is irrefutable. This is also one of the people who has spoken to the media before – and who is extensively quoted in that Daily Local article written by Anne Pickering in 2007:


These gentlemen who worked at Bishop Tube have spoken their same truth consistently for years so I do not get how people have never heard about the above until last night?  I spoke to one of the gentlemen yesterday and he’s sick. Bishop Tube poisoned these guys, so to me, if I was an elected official or some big mahatma with the Pennsylvania DEP, I would listen and act, but have they? Will they? Shouldn’t they?

So, if the developer can’t get what he wants (variance) he will pick up his proverbial ball and head back home on the Main Line or whatever? Is that what I am understanding? Even though when he bought the land circa 2005 he agreed to clean it up jointly with the PA DEP?

Allow me to quote (again) one of the more comprehensive articles ever written about the site that was in the Daily Local about the deadly history of Bishop Tube:

In 2005, Brian O’Neill of O’Neill Property Group purchased the site for $700,000 through his affiliate, Constitution Drive Partners, and signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to jointly clean it up. The plan is to keep the buildings and convert it for light industrial use.

I also have questions about the state of the art vapor mitigation system which people at the East Whiteland meeting were told last night remediated all that developer was required to do? Is this the air something (can’t remember the word) system that was designed by a company in Chadds Ford? The piece of equipment that someone said is broken and hasn’t worked in like 3 or 4 years? Is this what the DEP told the developer to do – to stop, they had done their part and the DEP was then supposed to come onsite to do more remediation only they never did?

I think this is related to an article I found from July 2014 that sometimes only shows up on a web cache:

Pa. Court Says Landowner Can’t Appeal DEP Agreement’s End

Law360, Philadelphia (July 18, 2014, 5:09 PM EDT) — A Pennsylvania court ruled Thursday that the owner of a contaminated tract of Chester County land could not appeal a Department of Environmental Protection letter ending an agreement in which the landowner agreed to take measures to rehabilitate the site in exchange for protection from liability.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board said that the letter the DEP sent to Constitution Drive Partners LP — which purchased the site of a former precious metals and steel processing facility in 2005 — was not appealable because the letter itself had no effect on the company….When CDP bought the former Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Township, it reached an agreement with DEP to take certain steps to remediate the existing soil and groundwater contamination, according to the opinion.

Then, in 2011, an independent contractor hired by CDP damaged piping and protective covering on a soil vapor extraction and air sparging system while conducting salvage operations on the site.

According to the opinion, CDP said that DEP had agreed that the repairs could be delayed until DEP was prepared to operate the system or the company intended to start redevelopment work on the site.

But in January, DEP sent the company the letter citing the 2011 damage and accusing the company of breaking the 2005 agreement.

And I found the The Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board docket sheet on the case, as well as final opinion and order which I downloaded (and uploaded here: Case Number 2014019)

Maybe I am just a simple person and I don’t get it.  But what I don’t get is how so many people seem to know how deadly the toxic Bishop Tube site is? Is it the township doesn’t have to know where all of the contamination points are because that is the responsibility of the builder and/or developer? But what I don’t get about that is if the township is approving plans, aren’t they supposed to know all of these details to make the most educated decision possible?  After all don’t taxpayers pay for the experts and solicitors to in fact know all of this?

What happens here if the remediation is not right? In addition to health, safety, and welfare down the road, what about the economic impact? As in future litigation on a toxic site that could bankrupt a small township?

Where oh where is the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in all of this?  The good old PA DEP with the following mission statement right off their website:

The Department of Environmental Protection’s mission is to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment. We will work as partners with individuals, organizations, governments and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources.

 

The above is their mission, they chose to accept it. So where in the heck are they? They have all of these side conversations with officials and developers and even residents, but are they like the CIA or something? Why don’t they come out of the shadows and into the light and tell us about their perspective on Bishop Tube? People like sunshine, right?

Why is it there has never, ever been a town hall meeting in East Whiteland with the PA DEP and out State Representative Duane Milne and State Senator Andy Dinniman and the developer about this?  I have wanted to ask Andy Dinniman’s office staff this, but two phone calls and one e-mail within the last week have never been responded to. (Which of course is not satisfactory in the least, nor is it acceptable, is it?)

Here is the list of executive staff of the PA DEP (CLICK HERE) . The Acting Secretary is Patrick McDonnell and of course because he doesn’t actually wish to deal with the public you can’t email him off his page.  But you can read about him on Marcellus Drilling News.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the PA DEP doesn’t want anyone to readily have access to email addresses to their staff, does it? So I was googling and found this name and address.  Would they be helpful at Bishop Tube:

Stephan Sinding, Manager
Environmental Cleanup & Brownfield Program
484-250-5716
Or perhaps this person?

Regional OfficesThe Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields program is responsible for the implementation of the Land Recycling Program and its affiliated procedures and policies through the following six regional offices.Southeast Regional Office
Thomas Canigiani, Program Manager
Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields
Southeast Regional Office
2 East Main St.
Norristown, PA 19401
Phone: 484-250-5960
tcanigiani@pa.gov

Or:
Dustin Armstrong, Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields Program, Southeast Regional Office, 2 East Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401, darmstrong@pa.gov
 
Written comments for the removal of the Chem Fab Site should be submitted to Colin Wade, Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields Program, Southeast Regional Office, 2 East Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401, cowade@pa.gov

So could the guy who is acting head of PA DEP have an e-mail as simple as pmcdonnell@pa.gov ?

Perhaps in an effort to be fair, we should NOT just throw everything regarding Bishop Tube on the developer because can’t it be said culpability also lies with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection too?

Here is the Southeast region phone directory:
 
Here are a couple of basic numbers:
 
General Information
Main Switchboard and 24-hour Emergency number 484 250-5900
Environmental Complaints, weekdays 484 250-5991
File Reviews 484 250-5910
Fax Main 484 250-5914
 

The Director’s Office is 484-250-5942.

 

PA DEP, come on down. Don’t be shy.  Tell the good people of General Warren Village and the residents of East Whiteland Township and the residents of Chester County where you all as the agency set up to protect us are on Bishop Tube remediation, ok?  The time for contemplation of the proverbial navel is over, you need to stand up and tell us all the truth, or shall we say some facsimile of the above?

As a community we need to talk about what Bishop Tube has done to residents and former workers, don’t we?  Isn’t that the responsible, ethical, moral thing to do before a development gets built and people live there??? Make those companies that were there onsite pay for what happened? If those old companies are forced to pay up then doesn’t remediation happen, developer gets to build, people can be safe, affected people can get care? As in everybody is happy?

Remember these thoughts with regard to Bishop Tube:

  • Apparently, TCE is a non-aqueous (will not dissolve in water) liquid that is more dense than water and will sink through the soils and water and continue to penetrate further into the ground. Remediation of it requires more work than something simple like a gasoline spill. I would assume that means that means that even going 12 feet down may not be an acceptable fix given the length of time that the spills have been there.

  • Given the fact that this is a hillside community there is a significant concern of offsite contamination since this stuff travels downhill.

 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection needs to man and woman up and come forward and speak to people about this out in the open.  After all have they or have they not been in part guiding this developer/property owner since they acquired this property in 2005? The DEP can’t just sit behind the scenes talking with this person and that person any longer.  This needs to be out in the open.  That way there is a level playing field for East Whiteland, residents of General Warren Village, former employees of Bishop Tube, potential future residents of East Whiteland who might move to new townhouses constructed on the site, and the developer.

Residents are legitimately upset, the developer wants his project to move forward.  People want a safe project from embryo stages to completed development and beyond.  People want proper remediation, right? Time for the PA DEP to step up, right?  Time for State Representatives and State Senators in the area to step up as well, right?

Call the PA DEP.  Call Dinniman and Milne.  Call the media outlets and ask them to contact all of them.

Yes, you can safely remediate brownfields sites.  It is just knowing publicly what exactly is going on and what can be done. And shouldn’t the PA DEP just clean up this site once and for all anyway? Don’t they have the ability to do so? And lest we forget, the developer did not cause the contamination, manufacturing companies/concerns did. The cause of the contamination is apparent, it is the rest which is always murky.

And don’t sit there reading this post and call people NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard.) People have good reason to be scared of this site.  And all anyone has ever wanted is for this site to be cleaned up.  It’s not the simplistic blanket knee jerk reaction that people are anti-development.  They want the site cleaned up.

And if there are kids still getting back there into Bishop Tube and homeless people, are they really safe? Kids are our future. Doing something on a lark might have consequences when they are adults, right?

Thanks

bishop tube in front of east whiteland march 8

Bishop Tube, August 2015

Tomorrow March 8th is the Board of Supervisors Meeting in East Whiteland. And Bishop Tube is on the agenda.

Bishop Tube. I know, I know I write about it a lot. I can’t help it. The site terrifies me. I wrote about it last week after the Zoning Hearing Board meeting in East Whiteland. The zoning hearing was continued to March 15th .

Also last week there was an Environmental Action Committee meeting. Bishop Tube was a big topic of conversation.  Here are notes that someone (not me, I was not there) took:

–The soil will be cleaned up by the developer in order to build, but it will be years before there will be an attempt at cleaning up the ground water. Sad but true that it may never be able to be cleaned up. This water is NOT going into our water table or any of the streams around us.

–The 20k that the developer said they would put in escrow to help with the cost of the upkeep, testing and maintenance on the vapor mitigation system is not enough. We all know that but apparently the developer thinks it will be enough. John Buzan (ran the meeting and maybe he’s the head of the EAC I don’t’ know) agreed that 20k wasn’t going to cover it.

–The developer isn’t involved, nor has to deal with the plans for ground water cleanup…I’m pretty sure this is what I understood.

–The township has asked DEP to oversee the vapor mitigation system and ground removal but they have not agreed to this as of yet. They are responsible to oversee the water run off though.

–There will be a third party hired to continuously test the soil and air and water surrounding the site for contaminates as the construction is done. This company will report to the township but will be paid for, but not picked, by the developer.

–If ever a sewer, or something like that has to be dug up; the people doing this will have to wear protective gear in order to be sure there are no contaminants that they would breathe or come in contact with.

–The developer has contacted the railroad (sorry can’t remember name of company – it is not the R5 but a freight train that runs through there) to talk of re-doing that under pass as it is in very poor condition. No answer yet.

 

Also today I received a response to questions I had asked, advice I had sought from a professional not connected to this whole scenario regarding Bishop Tube.  The response was illuminating, and on the eve of yet another meeting where Bishop Tube is discussed, I feel obliged to share:

  1. Developer should be able to offer some kind of proof via testing that the site is cleaned up and meets DEP standards.

  2. Apparently, TCE is a non-aqueous (will not dissolve in water) liquid that is more dense than water and will sink through the soils and water and continue to penetrate further into the ground. Remediation of it requires more work than something simple like a gasoline spill. I would assume that means that means that even going 12 feet down may not be an acceptable fix given the length of time that the spills have been there.

  3. Given the fact that this is a hillside community there is a significant concern of offsite contamination since this stuff travels downhill.

  4. If developer is serious about cleaning up contamination properly then he ought to have no problems issuing a bond that would be utilized to clean up any contamination later found in the community after he has sold and moved on. Hope this helps.

 

Sigh.  Every horrible thought I have had is true? This TCE laden site is as horrible as everyone says it is? And what about the 4th big contamination point Keith Hartman keeps trying to get people to pay attention to? Cesspools, mineral salts leeching into the creek?

I have grave concerns given what the developer said they are doing at the Zoning Hearing Board Meeting.  Remember the exchange I noted between the Delaware Riverkeeper and a developer witness, whom I believe was an engineer?

Here:

I was taking notes like crazy and this one exchange was so interesting – I did my best to be accurate but again I do not take dictation and I am not a court reporter, although there was one there:

Maya: “I would have you speak to what in fact what is left for DEP to to review and decide upon and what process is still left?

Two – There also seems to be this suggestion that anytime additional contaminants are found that they are going to be cleaned up, and so this site is going to be cleaned up…and so  I would like you to speak to this issue of whether or not in fact when you are done at this site that all of the TCE and toxic contaminants will be removed, so people don’t have to be concerned about it, or in fact is that not true and you have specifically and carefully with all your  communications with DEP actually limited the scope of your remediation including not going to uhhh saturated soils for example, 12 feet below ground surface, etc?”

 

Witness for developer: “That’s absolutely correct.”

 

Maya cuts back in “You are not? You are limiting, you are capping how much work you will do and you will intentionally leave contaminants on the site and people need to know that.”

 

Witness “That is correct.  Allow me to explain in a way that is no way nefarious…”

 

He (witness)  goes on to explain liability and  an old consent order (??is that right???)  with DEP and state version of hazardous clean up – PRPs – potentially responsible parties.  He goes on into known contamination beyond the scope of their legal responsibility – about how they will clean up so much and then it seems it will be up to DEP to enforce clean up by PRP potentially responsible parties that I guess are former manufacturing occupiers of site?

 

Witness acknowledges issues, discusses how developer will be doing more beyond satisfying their part of old (?) consent order (?) and will excavate three known soil contamination issues of the site above water table, excavate, clean up according to most stringent PA standard, residential statewide heath standard…acknowledges caused contamination of groundwater on site that migrates off site, affects tributaries of Little Valley Creek.  They believe their  soil excavations will have a beneficial effect towards clean up.

 

(Deep breath) Look at what was sent to me today with regard to suggestions, and put it side by side with what the developer is doing…it’s NOT enough what they are suggesting, is it?   And I am sorry I do NOT buy that super sized density is the ONLY way to get this cleaned up, do you? I accept the site will be developed, I have for years. But not without the proper clean up and remediation and is this place ever going to be truly safe for people to ever live there?  Maybe a NON-residential use would still be the best solution? And the other day I heard homeless hang out there?

Bishop Tube is a KNOWN problem child and has been known since the plant was still open. I have heard from reliable sources that former union guys there who are still alive are VERY concerned about this getting cleaned up. And comments from General Warren Village residents are the same.  Referring to it as a “cancer belt” back there, listing neighbors who were also in a lot of cases former Bishop Tube workers who died horrible deaths from scary cancers, respiratory issues.

Things are thankfully different today, and given the current temperature in Washington DC we have to stay on top of elected officials to make sure we all stay protected. But given how different things are today I find it difficult to comprehend that the Pennsylvania DEP hasn’t done more on this site, hasn’t been more proactive on clean-up.

After all, it has been years and years.

Queue Daily Local 2007 article (again):

…..Hartman, 51, started working at Bishop Tube in 1973 and worked alongside his father, who worked at the plant for 42 years. Both were millwrights and worked in maintenance.

Worst, 53, started in 1972 and worked in a variety of jobs and was president of Local 7566 of the AFL-CIO United Steel Workers of America in 1988 and 1989. He left Bishop Tube in 1989.

In an interview in February, Worst recalled what it was like working at the plant.

“There were large clouds of trichlor fumes that floated through the plant every day. I distinctly remember how it smelled,” he said.

Keith Hartman and Lester Hartman used to work in what was known as the trichlor pit surrounding the vapor degreaser area in building No. 8, the area of the heaviest TCE contamination on the site…..

“There would be two people down in the pit and a spotter above. We’d be down there for hours. When you came out, you felt dizzy, drunk, and there was a tingling sensation in your hands,” Hartman recalled.

“One guy they used to have to carry out. Afterwards, we’d go to the lunch room to wait until the effect wore off. I always wondered why the supervisors never bothered us when we were up in the lunchroom,” he said.

Hartman recalled another Bishop Tube employee, Charles McDonough, who also worked in the pit. He died of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Another employee who worked in the pit is Calvin Chandler, 84. Chandler has emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Worst and Hartman said their colleagues Jack Laidley, William Reidfern, Eddie Blain and Paul Blain all had died of cancer. Reidfern also had heart disease.

Three fellow workers suffered from cancerous neck tumors. Bill Hines of West Goshen had a malignant cancer on his neck and died. Irvin Whistler has a cancerous tumor on his neck but has survived. Raymond Buckwalter, another resident of General Warren Village, has a tumor on his neck that turned malignant and now suffers from lung cancer….In 2005, Brian O’Neill of O’Neill Property Group purchased the site for $700,000 through his affiliate, Constitution Drive Partners, and signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to jointly clean it up. The plan is to keep the buildings and convert it for light industrial use.

 

There are all these EPA Acts now:

Summary of the Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-Know Act 

Summary of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund) (CERCLA)

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Laws and Regulations

Manufacturing concerns operate under the above today.  Their employees have to have training and I believe annual re-certification under these Federal Laws.

Creating as little as slightly over 2 pounds of hazardous waste today brings a facility  under RCRA rules, for example.  If Bishop Tube was a site generator today they would be registered with the EPA and have a special site identifier number.

Now, here is something: if you research the EPA and these laws I believe you will see that the EPA clearly lists wastes that are hazardous if improperly disposed of – 400 substances known to be harmful to human health AND the environment. These things can be ignitable, corrosive, toxic or reactive.  They could be solids, liquids, or gases – things like TCE, battery acid, mercury, spent solvents right?

Penalties for violations of improper disposal can be up to $1 MILLION dollars and jail time of 15 years, so can someone please explain why the PA DEP is dicking around with Bishop Tube? Sorry to be vulgar, but my God, they KNOW it’s bad, right? remember the 2008 report by the US Department of health and Human Services?

BEFORE anything gets zoning variances or final plan approvals, CLEAN UP.

And I know for a fact that residents in General Warren have been in contact with PA DEP.

Mostly (trying to be fair) can it be said they get patted on the head and told that they are working towards choosing a remedy for the site?

And why is it a year ago residents reported construction activity on the Bishop Tube site complete with giant debris clouds wafting into nearby neighborhoods?  O’Neill has significant brownfields experience BUT can the same be said of Benson?

People in General Warren are terrified.  Old timers, multi-generational residents, new residents. It doesn’t matter.  They want to be safe, they want people who may or may not live or use the Bishop Tube site in the future to be safe and again why so long to clean things up there?  Back when the PA DEP was starting to pay attention to Bishop Tube, why didn’t they start to remediate THEN? You know when there was more money for remediation? Remember their press release circa 2007?

HERE:

MALVERN, Pa., May 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During a visit to the
 former Bishop Tube site in Chester County, Environmental Protection
 Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty talked about the importance of a program that
 helps the state respond to environmental emergencies, clean contaminated
 sites, protect the public's health and promote economic growth....
Bishop Tube was founded in 1842 for the manufacture of gold and
 platinum alloys for technical and industrial uses. It was also used as a
 metal fabrication facility in the 1950s. However, after a number of
 different owners, operations stopped in 1999, leaving behind a legacy of
 contamination that included TCE, nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid and heavy
 metals, including nickel and chromium. TCE is the primary contaminant of
 concern.
     Through HSCA, DEP has worked to investigate and assess the
 contamination at the site, maintain a safe water supply for an affected
 nearby resident, develop remediation alternatives, and facilitate public
 participation in selecting a remedial plan. Currently, the fund is helping
 to install a system that addresses shallow groundwater contamination at the
 site.
     Additionally, the site's new owner -- Constitution Drive Partners LP --
 has entered into an unprecedented cost sharing partnership with DEP whereby
 Constitution addresses the contaminated soil and DEP addresses the
 contaminated, shallow groundwater. Soil remediation is expected to take 2-3
 years to complete, but groundwater remediation will take much longer.
     To date, DEP's investigation of the contamination has cost more than $1
 million and it is expected that an additional $700,000 is needed to
 complete the onsite shallow groundwater remediation. All DEP work has been
 made possible through the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act.

General Warren residents and other concerned residents? Please take the time for meeting tomorrow.  I know these meetings aren’t fun, I have done my time at them over the years BUT you need to advocate for yourself and your fellow neighbors.  You can’t depend on elected and appointed officials to be clairvoyant.  Packed boardrooms send a message. If you can entice media to cover you, even better. Sunshine makes the world go round, right?

Here is the list of media that residents can contact to ask them to give coverage to Bishop Tube:

1) Daily Local News:

610-696-1775

2) Philadelphia Inquirer:

(215)854-4500

3) CBS 3:

philadelphia.cbslocal.com/about-us/contact-us/

4) ABC 6:

215-878-9700

6abc.com/contact

5) NBC 10:

610-668-5510

nbcphiladelphia.com/send-feedback

6) Fox 29:

888-369-4762

comments@foxnewsinsider.com

Here is DEP info – Residents can and should contact them directly with questions and concerns. As is the case with elected officials, township employees, and media, just try your best to be polite.

Division of Hazardous Waste
Bureau of Waste Management
PA Department of Environmental Protection
14th Floor Rachel Carson State Office Building
PO Box 69170
Harrisburg PA 17106-9170
717-787-6239
E-Mail: ra-hazwaste@pa.gov

Tom Mellott — Division Chief, Hazardous Waste Management
Melissa Gross — Chief, Compliance and Information Management
Glenn Mitzel — Chief, Permitting and Technical Support

DEP REGIONAL OFFICE CONTACTS
SOUTHEAST REGION,
Norristown
484-250-5902

SOUTHEAST REGIONAL OFFICE
DEP Southeast Regional Office
2 E. Main Street Norristown, PA 19401-4915.
Phone: 484 250-5900 (24 hours/day)

Acting Regional Director: Anderson Hartzell

Counties served: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.

#alternativefacts

I received an article this morning with the following note:

They have all lost their tiny minds….Typical sales tool for developers…

Small lots “by design” because NO ONE wants to take care of a big yard…just sit INSIDE with their little couch potatoes, lots of “family time” in front of the TV…oh, how healthy.

Disgusting propaganda on all counts, all at our expense…ugh.

Ahh yes…developers the original architects of #alternativefacts
Malvern Named ‘Hottest Suburban Town’ By Philly Magazine

The borough is in a “gold rush” of housing the magazine says.

By Max Bennett (Patch Staff) – March 6, 2017 12:26 pm ET

Malvern was named one of the area’s “10 Hottest Suburban Philadelphia Towns” in Philadelphia Magazine’s March issue.
Malvern joined other towns such Armdore, Newtown (Bucks county) and Phoenixville. Click here to see the full list.
“Malvern is in the midst of a gold rush of sorts,” the magazine said. “Buyers looking to get into the excellent Great Valley School District and close to the Main Line at a good price (realtors like to refer to this as the Upper Main Line, much to Gladwyne’s chagrin) are making grabs for newly converted land.”

The Philadelphia Magazine article itself targets quite a few areas, including Phoenixville, West Chester, and Malvern. Here is a screen shot of part of what they say about Malvern:


#AlternativeFacts let’s break this down:

  1. When they say “Malvern” they should be saying East Whiteland – and  that is what they are picturing above with the rendering of the continuation of O’Neill’s Worthington.  Is it being petty to note that they don’t mention the Bishop Tube project?
  2. This is NOT the “Upper Main Line” or “Main Line” and never will be. It’s Chester County and having spent over 30 years living on the actual Main Line, thank goodness for Chester County.
  3. Realtors need to refresh on actual history. The Main Line ended in Paoli where the namesake train line ended.
  4. With all that is being developed this area is not going to look like the Main Line it’s going to look like King of Prussia meets Bensalem meets Broomall.

It’s like all the blurbs are peppered with developer names. Is that how the world is beginning to view Chester County? By the developer? I don’t see a Toll Brothers development in every community as a positive do you?

And the whole #alternativefacts in development speak is nothing new. Take Downingtown. There is nothing wrong with saying you are from Downingtown when talking about either the borough or outside of the borough.  But how do developers describe a healthy percentage of any development in Downingtown?  They call it Chester Springs. Soon they will call Coatesville Chester Springs. 

What will they call Kennett Square? Down at that end of things everything seems to be under the blanket of “Chadds Ford” even if it isn’t, huh?

And Crebilly? Will that become “Newtown Square West” in honor of the Tollification of Foxcatcher Farm since the density proposed for Crebilly is almost the same house count for what they now rebranded Liseter?

And all these McMansion dwellers? Where do they think their food comes from and will come from as acre after acre of farmland and open space is developed into Tyvec wrapped boxes stacked so all live like lemmings? Do they think their food is grown in the aisles of Wegmans or on the roof of Kimberton Whole Foods?

Mark my words, this development “boom” is not endlessly sustainable. But by the time everyone figures it out it will be too late.

But hey, #alternativefacts aren’t just for Washington D.C., right?