Bishop Tube 2017 – Photographer Unknown – found on East Whiteland Township Community Huddle Page
Bishop Tube…yes…more, more, more on Bishop Tube. I do not seek information out, it finds it’s way to me. Today’s offerings are a slew of documents from the Pennsylvania DEP and other places going back into the 1990s and stopping a few years ago. People have been hanging onto stuff to save for a rainy day.
Someone said to me these few documents tell a story – and can you imagine all the documents we will probably NEVER see on Bishop Tube?
Anyway, after wading through these documents the story being told to me is someone should have cleaned this place up already, and why isn’t this on the EPA’s radar?
Since someone dropped a little “sunshine” in my lap, I am paying it forward and putting them out there. Just for the record I am not trying to be another Erin Brocavitch. This stuff just found it’s way to me…..
Someone asked me about half an hour ago which meeting in East Whiteland was featuring Bishop Tube this week. I said I thought only the Planning Commission and they asked me WHERE it was on East Whiteland’s Planning Commission agenda.
Interior of Bishop Tube 2017 – photographer unknown – found on a community page
Over the weekend Maya contacted residents to encourage them to write Dinniman and Milne’s offices ASAP (see instructions here.)
So as residents are busy writing letters and calling the PA DEP and so on, East Whiteland Planning Commission pulls Bishop Tube from the agenda? (Bishop Tube was discussed at recent Supervisors’ meeting – CLICK HERE.)
We may never know but keep writing those letters and making those calls, right?
I have to be honest that while I have 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, and I think they concern me most of all (they are being so Limerick here aren’t they?)
So that being said, residents need to keep on going 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.
Bishop Tube is a site that could be redeveloped, but in my personal opinion with much less density AND after MORE remediation than is currently being discussed because of those buried vats or whatever that the former employees talk about and who can argue with that???
I am guessing it is stay tuned on Bishop Tube, yes? But apparently Wednesday, residents get the evening off. For any questions of why they are no longer on agenda please call East Whiteland Township.
Final questions to leave everyone with: what does the EPA think of this site ? You would think they knew all about it, right? And what role or roles does politics play here and not merely local, but shall we say a larger scale?
Interior of Bishop Tube 2017 – photographer unknown – found on a community page
Interior of Bishop Tube 2017 – photographer unknown – found on a community page
Somewhere on Bishop Tube site 2017 – photographer unknown – found on a community page
Read this old Washington Post article about what TCE and other contaminants did to a town years ago:
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?
These gentlemen who worked at Bishop Tube have spoken their same truth consistentlyfor 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?
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.
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?
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?)
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dustin Armstrong, Environmental Cleanup and Brownfields Program, Southeast Regional Office, 2 East Main Street, Norristown, PA 19401, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
So could the guy who is acting head of PA DEP have an e-mail as simple as email@example.com ?
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?
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?
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?
The developers did not show up with very many copies of site plans. I do not think they were expecting a completely packed room which included people standing for the East Whiteland Zoning Hearing Board meeting on February 27th.
It was so amazing to see all the people turn out. General Warren Village and General Warren Village supporters did an AMAZING job.
The role of the Delaware Riverkeeper is to give the Delaware River, and the communities that depend upon it and appreciate it, a voice at every decision-making table that could provide help or do harm. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network that van Rossum leads is the only citizen action organization that works the entire length and breadth of the Delaware River and its watershed, speaking and working for both its protection and its restoration. Delaware Riverkeeper Network has its main office in Bristol, PA and can be found on the web at www.delawareriverkeeper.org. van Rossum’s blog can be found at http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/blog/ – they have a Water Watch hotline and well, in an era of David vs. Goliath, they give “David” an edge.
Maya was an incredible addition to last night, and I will get to that later. (she is FIERCE!)
We did have one of the three supervisors in attendance last evening, which I found heartening.
Here are some notes taken on the fly – so feel free to add to them or correct:
Board of Supervisors responded last evening via attorney to concerns. Township is closely monitoring remediation, impact of remediation, standards and monitoring of remediation etc etc.
Township wants safer environment. Township right now in opposition of variance according to lawyer unless certain conditions met with Township.
DEP has approved conditions* BUT township reviewing. BOS is reviewing with EAC and then they will decide whether to object to variance request.
March 15 special meeting being asked for by Zoning. The meeting (hearing) was ultimately continued to March 15, 2017 at 7:15 PM
* “Conditions” referred to above Developer expert is talking about conditions discussed with DEP- didn’t catch all – witness for developer was speed speaking:
~ Establish a separate environmental escrow associated with development $20 k
~ Non refundable deposit to future HOA
~ Applicant will remediate 3 major hotspots in accordance with scope of work submitted to DEP – digging out soil as per Act 2. But it isn’t Act 2
~No disturbance in 3 soil hot spots until remediation complete (New construction?)
~ Applicant will install vapor mitigation systems. Most stringent available designed by engineer. Review said systems, maintain?
~ Developer would obtain stormwater permit – county/state – did not catch acronym
~developer will provide access to DEP etc
~ utilities will be developed to prohibit vapor migration/ groundwater migration
~ developer will comply with local zoning
~ developer will document remediation
~ until 3 hot spots remediated no construction of residential units.
~ developer would submit demolition plans to township and DEP
(NOTE: very abridged version of above – expert was speaking so very quickly and I don’t take dictation professionally so I did my best – I know I missed one of the conditions – feel free to add or clarify in comments. It would be helpful if media had covered meeting, but I did not see any media there at all.)
Something about collecting storm water and capture and release to stream? Not sure if I heard that right . ZHB has concerns about retaining wall and safety- 20+ storm water “systems” – all release to stream. What environmental impact does that have considering existing toxicity of site? How is water cleaned? Whose job will it be to stay on top of that?
Final stormwater discharge into / near emergency access so does that mean General Warren gets water?
GWV residents are pointing out a shallow stream expected to take developer’s stormwater. Is GWV in part going to be part of stormwater management plan? They say no construction vehicles on village way (developer)?
Maya (Delaware Riverkeeper) asking about volume reduction and other things relating to creeks. Asking about correspondence on sampling between developer and DEP. Asking about TCE staying in place?
Residents questioning stormwater retention basin(s) and retaining wall.
More questions on stormwater runoff into stream and does stream have capacity to handle it?
Vapor intrusion being discussed by older gentleman- potential cancer cluster – people with cancer in General Warren Village? (couldn’t hear all of it clearly)
ZHB kept quizzing on removing top soil, Remediation , etc
Elevation from General Warren Village to retention walls eye level according to developer witness? Residents asking what they would see from Village Way? Someone from General Warren remarked about being able to see from “bathroom windows”
Maya the Delaware Riverkeeper talked about the planting of trees and trees they were removing – good point as developers tend to remove and replace NOT with the same size plantings. And they spoke of riparian buffers, but not what they consisted of or if they would be substantial.
Keith Hartman who worked at Bishop Tube is asking questions. He is extremely knowledgeable about site. He spoke about how they used to “dispose” of the toxic chemicals in one part of site in the old days (sounded like they just dumped stuff kind of wherever?)
Mr Hartman pointing out toxic hotspots – see dark grey areas – and asking about mineral salts.
Mr. Hartman asking about sampling near old parking lots that were near spill. Not sure but it might have been that 1981 incident?
Keith Hartman and Dave Worst have many things in common.
They were both born in the 1950s, two years apart. They both grew up in General Warren Village, the modest, working class subdivision located south of Lancaster Avenue near the intersection of Route 29, and named for the historic General Warren Inne.
Like many of their neighbors in General Warren, Hartman and Worst worked at the nearby Bishop Tube Co.
Most significantly, the two men know of former Bishop employees who suffer from potentially fatal illnesses that they believe may have been caused by their exposure to trichlorethylene (TCE), a suspected carcinogen, during their tenure at the plant.
Hartman’s father, Lester Hartman, who worked alongside him at the plant, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease. Worst has stage two melanoma and lesions on his liver and kidneys that his doctors are monitoring.
According to a report from the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, breathing high levels of TCE may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma and possibly death.
Hartman and Worst can also run off a list of fellow Bishop Tube workers who either died from cancer or nerve diseases, or currently suffer from them.
“Don’t let them blow smoke up your tailpipe,” said Keith Hartman, “those mineral salts must be cleaned up.”
Hartman worked for Bishop Tube when the plant was still in operation. He, like many neighbors who attended the meeting, are concerned of possible health risks to potential residents if the site is not cleaned up properly.
In January there was a follow up article in Daily Local about Bishop Tube:
…..When asked what kind of remediation the site needs to undergo before construction can begin, Virginia Cain, a DEP spokeswoman, wrote in an email that the former tubing plant will need soil and groundwater remediation in accordance with cleanup standards set forth in Act 2.
Act 2, also known as the Land Recycling Program encourages “the voluntary cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites,” according to the DEP.
Cain wrote that the standards in Act 2 can include both statewide health standards and site-specific standards.
When asked if the site is considered a “Superfund” site, Cain wrote that “Superfund” sites refer to a federal program, but that the Bishop Tube site “is currently on the Pennsylvania Priority List and under the authority of the DEP’s HSCA (Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act) program, which is similar to the federal Superfund program.”
Now one of the most interesting parts of the meeting occurred between Maya The Delaware Riverkeeper and one of the developer witnesses (some sort of engineer I thought). It was at the end of the meeting before they called it to continue March 15th.
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.
I do not think enough monies being set aside by developer to pay for experts East Whiteland may need to hire are much because experts are expensive – environmental lawyers and environmental engineers. Monies quoted could disappear quite quickly – those experts bill expensively, right? And what about any monies for future HOA? How does East Whiteland know if THAT is sufficient?
Other questions that I have include the fire department – as the plans are currently drawn up are there any indications from East Whiteland Fire Department about cartways and whatever you call them? Will all fire apparatus be able to navigate site? I feel that this is VERY important – it is not just abut emergency access from General Warren, but will ALL of their apparatus safely navigate the plans as currently available? Those big rigs need room!
A related aside – here are the LLCs on the developer side:
I do not recall last evening that the developer’s attorney got into the whys of it all concerning WHY the developer is seeking zoning variances, so will it be the battle cry of “economic hardship”? Or, they can’t build without a variance which would increase density in an already dense plan? And why is any developer’s potential economic hardship a burden a community getting a plan inflicted upon them not by their desire in the first place?
This site is going to be developed, I am not arguing that. I have never argued that. But it is a very toxic site because of the TCE and whatever else was left behind and is lodged in the land, the aquifer. How the site gets developed has always concerned me and I ask again, is this the best use for the property?
What of impact on the school district? How are a few more hundred to potentially few thousand kids from this plan combined with Atwater and any other development large or small going to affect the school district? Has the school district weighed in on this?
Traffic lights proposed? Who is paying for that if variance is waived? The previous zoning is in place to help preserve open space or farms or industrial from being over developed.
And what kinds of complementary businesses will be added to the surrounding area to support these new homes? Will that zoning need to be changed too? What is it costing East Whiteland residents in legal fees for all of this now (let alone the future)? Will this plan be one that is truly economically viable for East Whiteland or become another millstone around East Whiteland’s proverbial neck?
Why always townhouses instead of single family homes? Lighting and noise? How will this development affect General Warren Village with regard to those issues?
I do believe that the Zoning Hearing Board is weighing this all carefully, but I would say that residents MUST keep up the pressure. Packing the boardroom last evening was a great start. But there is a while to go.
I have done my best to relay my meeting notes accurately. Others may add to them. Of course it would be helpful if the media took an interest. And it would be helpful to hear what development happy Brian O’Leary of the Chester County Planning Commission thinks? Does he have an opinion? He was around serving in Lower Merion when ROHO and O’Neill’s now defunct Rock Hill Road project came about, so realistically he knows a similarly dense plan THERE was horribly unpopular as was the B.S. developer driven zoning overlay that allowed it, doesn’t he?
There you have it in conclusion – the worst part about Bishop Tube is the longer this goes on the more we have to ask ourselves how we got here and what exactly is the PA DEP going to do about it, let alone the EPA on a Federal Level? Or what about state elected officials? Duane Milne and Andy Dinniman? Duane Milne was all Mr. Press Release in 2007 but what has he done for anyone lately?
Where is Erin Brocovitch and Tom Girardi when you need him? Call me crazy but I think General Warren Village and neighboring Malvern Borough residents deserve the best thing possible with regard to this plan, don’t you?
Sigh…to be continued….feel free to leave comments anyone who was in that packed room last night.