the tale of the bishop tube documents

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…..

1st Amendment to Consent Order and Agreement PA DEP 1.22.2007

Administrative Record Docket Bishop Tube Site Events from 1998 to 2006

Bishop Tube 1999 Ground Water Sampling Done for DEP

Bishop Tube Cost Recovery 2006

Bishop Tube old media clippings

DEP 1

DEP Analysis of Alternatives Bishop Tube 12.14.2006

DEP and CDP Consent Order and Agreement 3.17.2005

DEP Little Valley Creek Surface Water and Spring Monitoring 8.27.2003

DEP Scope of Work Air Sparging Hot Spot Response 1.26.2006

HSCA Response Justification Document Bishop Tube 3.13.2000

Notice of Prompt Interim Response 3.14.2000

Old Bishop Tube Company History Pamphlet

Prelimnary Remedial Action Work Plan for Soil Remediation at Bishop Tube 3.11.2005

Surface Water Investigation Bishop Tube 2005

And always interesting? Old invoices  Old Bishop Tube and Related Invoices

east whiteland reporting bishop tube site is OFF planning agenda for 3/22

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.

HUH???

So I looked and lo and behold there is an AMENDED agenda…and Bishop Tube is postponed until the April 26th meeting.

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Maybe it is just me, but could it be the shiny spotlight of public attention and outcry caused this?????? Or is it just a scheduling thing?

Recently we had Maya K. van Rossum opine in her professional capacity as the esteemed Delaware Riverkeeper. She has been a powerful and unexpected blessing to the concerned residents of General Warren Village.  She showed up at East Whiteland Zoning a couple of weeks ago and then last week.  (Other post found here “calling erin brocovitch”)

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.)

Why?

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???

SEE:

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:

March 13, 1989

 

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.

 

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.

bishop tube plan met with a packed east whiteland zoning boardroom

plan-2

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.

zhb-feb-notice

It was so amazing to see all the people turn out.  General Warren Village and General Warren Village supporters did an AMAZING job.

17078041_1462119317134348_485323212_nAnd they had a powerful and unexpected ally in the room: Maya K. van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper.

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!)

16998854_1462074723805474_8464149577059753216_n

We did have one of the three supervisors in attendance last evening, which I found heartening.

East Whiteland also sent a solicitor to represent at the zoning meeting on Bishop Tube.

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
    ~environmental covenant
    ~ 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.16997882_1656917767655212_7768959074626449609_n

 

 

  • Mr. Hartman asking about sampling near old parking lots that were near spill. Not sure but it might have been that 1981 incident?

1981-bishop-tube-acid-spill

  • A gentleman (I guess investigator?) from PA DEP   visited Mr. Hartman recently – Marinelli or Martinelli? (Not sure but found a Martinelli listed HERE.)

16996122_1656917777655211_6973859171944418389_nHere are  articles where Mr. Hartman was in the paper – he knows the site SO well:

For Bishop Tube workers, danger lurked for decades

 By Anne Pickering Daily Local

 

Bishop Tube site possibly up for development

POSTED: 07/26/15, 6:47 PM EDT

“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:

Plans to develop contaminated East Whiteland site resubmitted

POSTED: 01/25/17, 2:09 PM EST

…..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.”

17022164_1656917744321881_1116283631204593680_nNow 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:

16991694_1656361451044177_7467780664617090460_o 17038963_1656361521044170_6151837136672422606_o16998658_1656361344377521_3476224322423310321_n

As I said previously, O’Neill knows how to do brownfield developments, but what about Benson Companies? I can only find Benson on Houzzz, no current website.  No mention of Bishop Tube on O’Neill’s website so that is somewhat concerning and want to know why? Two words: Linden Hall. Remember when Benson was thought to have been the savior of old Linden Hall? If they received their approvals for townhouses at Linden Hall, how they were going to restore Linden Hall itself as a new office for them? What did we see instead?  Wasn’t it selling approved plans to Pulte and no rehabilitation thus far only minimum maintenance?

And then there is the issue brewing in Tredyffrin Pattye Benson alerted everyone to. Historic Howelleville being their location for yet a total community destroying cram plan? And what of how Radnor residents feel about Benson?  I have to ask can Benson actually be trusted here? Or will residents go through all the heartache and meetings to have these plans sold off to someone else?

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?

And what of the PA DEP? Don’t they have an obligation to make the PRP (Potentially Responsible Parties) freaking clean up the Bishop Tube site???  After all the developer will not be responsible for all that should be done so why when discussion of clean up started here so long ago, it has never happened? Remember that Law360 article from 2014 in addition? Or the memorandum from the case that was in Federal Court over this site most recently? How is it a Federal judge did not get the gravity of Bishop Tube?

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.

plan-1

is the bishop tube site in malvern completely remediated for environmental hazards?

Bishop Tube in Malvern PA courtesy of Abandoned Not Forgotten

It is a fairly simple question: has the Superfund toxic waste dump of a site known as Bishop Tube been completely remediated? And if not where is it in the process?

According to court records from 2005, the Bishop Tube site groundwater contamination was first formally recognized in 1980:

In 1980, Congress enacted CERCLA. Groundwater contamination associated with the
Malvern Site was first identified in the spring of 1980 in residential wells. (Pl.’s Resp. Ex. 2 at
56412.) In September 1983, the Malvern Superfund Site was listed on the National Priorities
List. (Id.)

Yesterday I wrote a post on Bishop Tube and the latest proposed development. I had the link to a health report. So…Ok look but the thing is this – that health report thing says a LOT about Bishop Tube. The site has been targeted as toxic and been investigated a bunch of time since 1972, correct?  A cancer cluster was alleged in March 2007 by the community, correct?

Community folks reported 1-2 cancer cases in every household at that time, correct? A plume of contaminants from on-site has spread and is in the groundwater and local wells, correct?  A creek flows through there. Traces of the crud have been discovered a mile away, correct? There has been activity to clean up the contaminants at the site, but is it REALLY complete? Until it is complete, crud will continue to move in the plume, correct?

Additionally, since I posted my post I have seen the post shared on social media.  Residents of the area who grew up in and around General Warren have shared memories like this one:

” I remember being evacuated in June 1982 due to chemical spills and clouds of toxic stuff being in the air. Still clear in my mind since was studying for finals and we had to spend the night up in the old school in town. Also remember how my parents felt since there were fire police knocking on peoples’ doors to get out of their homes while the cops stayed in their cars and were using  speakers to get people out.”

Lots of current and former residents who also had relative who worked for Bishop Tube have commented. And have you ever read any of the obituaries of people who worked for Bishop Tube? How many of those people died of cancer? Also getting a lot of reads is a 2007 Daily Local article that was part of a series on Bishop Tube:

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.”

Ok so then you peruse all the East Whiteland Planning Commission meeting minutes you can find online that discuss Bishop Tube and here is a sampling:

EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING February 25, 2015

ZONING ORDINANCE AMENDMENT; CONSTITUTION DRIVE PARTNERS (BISHOP TUBE) – RRD RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT.
Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire and Bo Erixxon and Chuck Dobson
The proposed ordinance is amending the “Table of Development Standard for Residential Districts” for the RRD Residential Revitalization District for the maximum tract density by reducing the number from 20 units to 12 units per developable acre. Other changes provide for reduction in setbacks from street and building spacing. The applicant had held a meeting with the adjacent tank farm owners and residents from General Warren Village. They have been able to satisfy the access of school buses, tanker trucks and emergency access under the railroad overpass. The total number of units being proposed has decrease from 303 to 264 units.

EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING April 23, 2014

ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE

Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Frank Tavani, John Benson

The applicant is requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts.” The property is located on the south side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation. Mr. O’Neill advised that he has partnered with Benson Companies to construct townhouses on South Malin Road.

Mr. O’Neill stated that he met with the Township’s Fire Marshal who expressed his concern with the ability to handle a fire for multi-story structures at this location. Therefore, Mr. O’Neill has reduced the number of units to 305 down from 537 units. Density has been reduced by two-thirds from the original proposal. There will be no building on “hot spot” within the property, thereby, providing more green space. These “hot spots” will be capped. The new design is a rear entry building with 16 or 20 foot widths, three stories and approximately 1,900 sq. ft. The issue of a school buses being able to maneuver was investigated and determined not to be a problem. Changes to the intersection timing at Route 30 and South Malin Road will require modifications. Emergency vehicles only will have access to a keyed gate through Village Way. Members were advised that stormwater runoff will be controlled and the water will be cleaning before discharged to protect the Valley Creek. Discussion ensued.

Mr. David Babbitt presented his finding of the Fiscal Impact Study. He advised that the financial impact is positive for all entities: township, school district and county. He reviewed the report and stated that this development will not have a negative impact on the school district. Discussion ensued.

Members were advised that stacked townhouses are three and one-half stories tall and approximately 1,600-2,300 sq. ft. Mr. O’Neill addressed the screening for the units on the west side facing the tank farm and the exterior building materials being proposed. He offered to provide a four foot berm in front of the homes facing the tank farm for additional protection. Members suggested: 1) further review by the Fire Marshal for the new plan configuration; 2) traffic study review; and 3) approval of the building heights.

EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING February 26, 2014

ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE

Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Guy Wolfington

They are requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts. The property is located on the southeast side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The permitted uses are by right, special exceptions and conditional uses. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation.

Mr. O’Neill advised that the Bishop Tube property access is restricted due to the railroad tunnel. Various other development proposals have failed due to these restrictions. He is suggesting developing the property by demolishing the buildings. He will build 34 townhouses and 360 loft apartment with underground parking. There has been a cooperative effort from all parties to clean up the site. Discussion ensued concerning the safety limitations out of this area. Mr. O’Neill offered other developments where similar access limitation exists. He offered to provide the members a tour of these other locations he’s developed.

EAST WHITELAND TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING May 28, 2014

ZONING ORDINANCE TEXT AND MAP AMENDMENT – RRD –RESIDENTIAL REVITALIZATION DISTRICT – SOUTH MALIN ROAD – BISHOP TUBE

Represented by Lou Colagreco, Esquire, Brian O’Neill, Frank Tavani, John Benson

The applicant is requesting to add a new permitted residential district by amending Section 200-19 “Permitted Uses for Residential Districts.” The property is located on the south side of Malin Road formerly known as Bishop Tube property. The intent of the RRD Residential Revitalization District is to

provide for and encourage reuse, redevelopment and revitalization of tracts that have undergone remediation.

They are proposing to construct 305 townhouses. The density has been reduced by two-thirds from the original proposal. Mr. Colagreco stated that this most recent plan has been presented to Ken Battin, Building Official/Fire Marshal, and he gave a favorable review of this plan. Members were advised that they can satisfactorily comply with the items listed in McMahon Associates letter, dated May 23, 2014. Changes to the intersection timing at Route 30 and South Malin Road can be accomplished. A discussion ensued relative to the County Planning Commission review letter. The solicitor felt that they had not been given them credit for the revitalization. Ms. Woodman asked, if the two properties under agreement with the Benson Company, contained any contamination? She suggested that the applicant investigate Section 200-25.1 (A) which requires that the properties either will or have undergone remediation standards. To date, the Township has no “brownfield” notification on these two parcels. The applicant was advised the the surrounding community is interested in the status of the cleanup. Mr. Colagreco suggested that information be forward to the Township for incorporation on the website.

ACTION:

Mr. Laumer made a motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors approval of the Zoning Ordinance Text and Map Amendments to creating a new RRD- Residential Revitalization District and applying this District in lieu of the current I-Industrial Zoning District designation on three parcels including the former

Bishop Tube property located on South Malin Road east of the Buckeye Tank Farm. The motion was seconded by Todd Asousa and the vote was unanimous.

Ok, so all this craziness mostly talks ONLY about HOW many units. From a couple hundred to over five hundred, to three hundred to two hundred and sixty four and apparently after last evening’s meeting oh goodie two hundred and thirty some odd units.

But where is everyone on where exactly is the remediation of this toxic site? As of April of this year (as in 2015 in case you read this post years from now), there is a Federal Law Suit filed that is NEW about this site. Filing a Federal suit (Bishop Tube et al 2015 litigation) is not something someone wakes up one morning and decides to do like putting on a blue shirt versus a pink dress. It is a little more complex and complicated is it not?

Oh and as pursuant to the resident remembering an evacuation in 1981:

1981 Bishop Tube Acid Spill

So where is the remediation?  I have been checking old HSCA Remedial Sites Listing and De-listing Dates on the web from the state and have NOT found any de-listing of Bishop Tube, so what is going on?

If this site is NOT completely remediated , why the cart before the horse scenario? Isn’t it a little bass ackwards to be discussing a development plan if a site is not completely cleaned up?  And is it true it can take decades to properly clean up a site like this because you never know when little pools of toxic goodness will bubble up? And can’t these chemicals get trapped between rocks and stuff and get released anew if moved?

In 2007 State Senator Andy Dinniman talked a good game on TCE, or Trichloroethylene (reference July 2007 newsletter item “Dinniman Gets Tough on TCE“), so where is he now? Where is he on the Bishop Tube site? What about State Representative Duane Milne?

Ok so what about the court/legal pissing match between Constitution Drive Partners LP and the PA DEP?

Excerpt:

Philadelphia (July 18, 2014, 5:09 PM ET) — 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…..But in January, DEP sent the company the letter citing the 2011 damage and accusing the company of breaking the 2005 agreement…..CDP is represented by Jonathan Sperger and Lynn Rauch of Manko Gold Katcher & Fox LLP.

The DEP is represented by in-house counsel Anderson Lee Hartzell.

The case is Constitution Drive Partners LLC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, case number 2014-019-M, in the Environmental Hearing Board.

So how  does the above affect this potential development?  And should there even been anything in the approval process of a municipality when remediation doesn’t appear to be complete and there is a Federal level law suit pending?

In 2007 the PA DEP out a press release which says in part:

DEP TO HOLD HEARING OUTLINING TREATMENTS FOR CHESTER COUNTY SITE CONTAMINATION

Public Invited to Comment on Plans for Bishop Tube Property

NORRISTOWN — The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, to give residents the chance to comment on a proposal to address soil and groundwater contamination at the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Township, Chester County. The former industrial facility is being cleaned up under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA), a 1988 law that authorizes DEP to investigate and clean up hazardous waste sites. “We have a unique opportunity at this site to partner with the current property owner to make sure that groundwater and contaminated soil can be treated simultaneously and efficiently,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “We will present these plans at the Jan. 30 hearing for public comment.”

The site consists of a large area of contaminated groundwater associated with the former Bishop Tube Company. The company used, and most likely released, hazardous substances into the environment, including trichloroethylene (TCE), nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid and various heavy metals including nickel and chromium. TCE is of particular concern since it has been detected in groundwater on the former Bishop Tube property and in wells and springs off-site.

Although DEP activity on this site began in 1999, most recently, the agency has been concentrating its efforts on three distinct source areas of contaminated soil.

Last September, a DEP contractor installed monitoring wells to help determine the extent that contaminated groundwater from the Bishop Tube site is affecting the Little Valley Creek, part of the Exceptional Value Valley Creek Watershed.

From 1999 through 2006, DEP completed three phases of remedial investigation work at the site, mapping onsite soil contamination and conducting stream and sediment sampling while conducting groundwater investigation work. Within the last year, the agency has initiated a feasibility study to evaluate options for addressing the discharge of contaminated shallow groundwater to Little Valley Creek.

The 13.7-acre Bishop Tube property is currently owned by Constitution Drive Partners (CDP), who purchased the site in 2005 to redevelop it for commercial or light industrial use. As part of the site purchase agreement, CDP will finance the purchase and installation of equipment needed to remediate contaminated soils in the three source areas and work with DEP to address groundwater contamination issues. This will enable DEP to better coordinate cleanup actions with the developer’s plans to renovate the site for productive use.

So what happened? What is the latest? My research thus far that save development discussions as in how many units, will there be playing fields and so on I can’t find anything much over the past few years about where the clean up process is can you? Now yesterday on this contractor builder “smart bid” site I found an interesting drawing:
bishop tube site TCESo these are hot spots and contaminated areas that they know of? (And isn’t it amazing this project is being all put out for bid consideration like it is a done deal? Is it a “done deal”?)

Last night I heard a handful of residents attended the East Whiteland Planning Commission Meeting. Early reports of citizenry perspective can be summed up in one word: disappointment.  East Whiteland has a grave responsibility here don’t you think? Shouldn’t a plan with so many external balls in the air be tabled until things are settled? Like any litigation involving the site and site remediation being completed? What happens if they just close there eyes, hope for the best and approve without all of that stuff being taken care of? Litigation where the township could be added to, correct?

And a word to the wise to residents who think this plan doesn’t affect them: even if you don’t live in or around General Warren Village this affects you. Traffic, infrastructure, and costs associated with any future litigation over a site contaminated with toxic waste for starters, right? Couldn’t any potential township involved litigation related to this site be economically crippling to a municipality?

Residents in East Whiteland should stand with the residents of General Warren on this. Those people in General Warren have taken it on the chin with things like Cube Smart (and the stories of how some residents were treated are a little alarming, right?). The negatives thus far outweigh the positives of any development at Bishop Tube, don’t they?

And there is another thing to consider  – so once upon a time there was this moratorium on development in East Whiteland. See:

Fate Of Debated Building Moratorium Hinges On E. Whiteland Race

Posted: October 28, 1999

Town Eyes Construction Moratorium East Whiteland Would Take 18 Months To Develop A Comprehensive Plan. Some Say The Proposal Would Not Stand Up In Court.

Posted: February 23, 2000

East Whiteland has no regrets on moratorium Such measures were recently struck down. Still, the break from development was valuable, officials say.

Posted: July 05, 2001

Ok so this went all the way to the State Supreme Court. And it was struck down. Which isn’t any great surprise given things like, oh I don’t know…. the Municipalities Planning Code and whatnot?  At the time former supervisor Virginia McMichael was quoted as saying:

“We knew we were sticking our necks out a little bit, and people said we should wait to enact a moratorium,” Virginia McMichael, vice chairwoman of the East Whiteland supervisors, said recently.

“But by not waiting, we did have a year to work on our comprehensive plan without having to accept new plans, and that was helpful to us. Now, we’ve lost one of our arrows.”

The article continued:

The township’s 18-month moratorium was adopted in February 2000. It was suspended last July after the Zoning Hearing Board found it invalid because proper review procedures were not followed. Supervisors reinstated the moratorium in September.

On June 20, the state Supreme Court ruled that while a municipality can regulate land development, it cannot suspend it through moratoriums.

Eyes rolling. How much did Virginia’s Folly cost East Whiteland tax payers? We may never know, right? And the irony of this woman championing a moratorium on development back then and by the time she skeedaddled to  wherever she went after she stepped down she was a champion of development and do I have that straight?

Who says you can’t have it both ways?

So if you do the math starting with plans that started getting presented when McMichael was still supervisor to the present day how many living units are in the works for East Whiteland?  1200+?   1500+?   Or more?

East Whiteland is awash in a Where’s Waldo of development. But hey, since East Whiteland is working on another comprehensive plan maybe they should have a Groundhog Day and try another moratorium on development? (Kidding but if only it could happen, right?)

Look Bishop Tube is scary stuff. Why can’t they clean it up completely and get some sort of cleaned up certification from PA DEP or the EPA before proceeding on anything else? And why can’t East Whiteland ask for that?

And as far as development goes East Whiteland would be best served by taking a breath just because a developer decrees build it and they will come, it doesn’t make it so. Especially when you are talking about sites like Bishop Tube which have the distinct potential of becoming Silkwood meets Erin Brocavitch, right?

The bottom line here is we all have to care, all of us. We just have to.  Can we say  that lives and future lives depend upon it? Here is hoping in a strange collision of the universe that politicians and developers and municipal folk care about doing this one right.

Bishop Tube 20140908_Report_of_Findings Bishop Tube

Figure_12_-_TCE_Source_Area_Location_Map

Bishop Tube Environmental Impact Assessment

Chester County Hazard Vulnerability Analysis July 2009

PRESENTATION ON HAZARDOUS SITES CLEANUP FUND REPUBLICAN POLICY COMMITTEE HEARING DECEMBER 6 2007

Bishop Tube Earth Engineering Report Letter