Yes, TCE infected/polluted land and not just the Bishop Tube site. We’re all still talking about these sites. I always wonder why there seems to be so much still to clean up? I mean I get way back when none of us knew the environmental hazards people would face but is it just me or do others feel like these topics are discussed, but then not enough is ever cleaned up?
So I put up a post recently about the notice coming out about Bishop Tube clean-up.
It still remains a hot topic. WHYY (embedded below) and Philadelphia Inquirer (excerpt below):
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection plans an $8 million cleanup of the contaminated Bishop Tube site in Chester County — a focus of controversy for 10 years when a company controlled by developer Brian J. O’Neill purchased it to build housing.
Constitution Driver Partners LP, O’Neill’s company, did not cause the pollution, and the property was already on the DEP’s list of brownfields approved for reuse as long as they are cleaned to state standards.
Still, residents and environmental groups have opposed building on the vacant industrial site where a number of contaminants are present in the soil, water and air inside the old buildings. The main contaminant of concern is trichloroethylene (TCE), a colorless liquid that can cause headaches, dizziness, and sleepiness in moderate amounts, and coma and death in large amounts. It is also linked to heart, liver, and kidney problems as well as cancer.
TCE has been found in excess of state allowable levels and was widely used in the process of making steel tubing at the 13.7-acre site in Frazer, East Whiteland Township, starting in the 1950s.
But why I am writing this post is I find it interesting that ANOTHER toxic site in East Whiteland also containing TCE from the OTHER side of the township is becoming a hot topic. Maybe I have been living under a rock, but I forgot this existed. It started with my seeing this on the East Whiteland website:
EPA has opened the public comment period regarding a proposed cleanup plan for the Malvern TCE Superfund Site. Community members and interested parties are encouraged to share comments between September 29 and October 28, 2022. More information on how to comment and about the proposed cleanup plan can be found below.
The Malvern Trichloroethene (TCE) Superfund Site, located in East Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, operated as a solvent reclamation facility from 1952 to 1992. The site is in a wooded area surrounded by residential and undeveloped areas bordering the property to the west, north and east. The site consists of a main plant area connected to a former disposal area by a narrow meadow corridor, and sources of contamination at the site are tied to these two areas.
A portion of the site is owned and operated by Chemclene Corporation that, until a fire in 1999, sold hydrogen peroxide and industrial cleaning solvents. These solvents were used by local industries for degreasing metal parts and for other cleaning purposes. Chemclene used a distillation process to remove impurities from the previously used solvents, which were then returned to customers for reuse or held in bulk storage for resale.
Prior to 1976, sludge from the distillation process was disposed in the wooded area, also known as the former disposal area. The former processing, chemical storage, and waste management practices at the property contaminated the soil and groundwater. Following the detection of soil and groundwater contamination in 1980, Chemclene took several measures to clean up the site from 1982 to 1987 with the oversight of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The site was added to EPA’s National Priorities List in September 1983.
As an operating hazardous waste facility, Chemclene signed a Corrective Action Order with EPA in 1989 to continue the cleanup. When the company failed to carry out the Order, the site was referred back to EPA’s Superfund program in November 1993. Since then, EPA has been overseeing the cleanup of the site.
SO….learn to take ahold of opportunities and attend the October 13th meeting. Especially if you live on that side of the township where it is located.
The EPA 30-Day Public Comment Period has officially begun for the “Malvern TCE Proposed Cleanup Plan.”
The EPA published a newspaper ad in the Daily Local News and also mailed out fact sheets with details about the plan and the upcoming public meeting. (Mind you I do not know who received said fact sheet, I have yet to see a mailed copy.) A digital copy of the fact sheet and full Proposed Cleanup Plan document can be found on the front page of the Site’s EPA Profile Page: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/malvern.
EPA will be hosting the public meeting on October 13, 2022 at 6:00 P.M. at the East Whiteland Township Building. I will note this seems to be the old ChemClene site. But people have an opportunity to speak up. They should take it. That site is actually pretty close to Great Valley High School among other things. I do not know that the meeting is being recorded, although it should be.
Again, This meeting I discovered is October 13, at the East Whiteland Township. As in this Thursday. 6 PM.
In closing, every time I hear about one of these things I ask the same question: how many toxic sites exist in Chester County? How toxic are parts of Chester County, really and do we want to know? How will the EPA treat parts of Chester County based on their recent “forever chemicals” coverage in the media? Will the PA DEP follow the EPA?
My my my. My late father always said a lot of real news was buried in the Saturday paper. And here we have it.
File under April Fools’ from the Pennsylvania DEP?
At this point I can’t decide who is sleazier, can you? Developers with their perpetual sets of the emperor’s new clothes or the state agencies who are supposed to protect us?
I wonder what does the EPA think? I realize they are a Federal agency but do they care? Or are residents on their own with TCE across the country and the damage it does? The damage TCE has done already?
So yeah, Pennsylvania DEP, people ARE watching you. Remember Limerick? Remember how people rose up and demanded the DEP actually do their jobs and not just push paper around?
And while we are calling people out on toxic Bishop Tube and the fact that way too many in authority have known for DECADES about this site, should we not call out State Representative Duane Milne and State Senator Andy Dinniman?
This is a deadly, toxic site and it needs to be cleaned up properly. Those three hot spots which are the only ones that supposedly are going to get cleaned up are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg and the Pennsylvania DEP knows it, don’t they?
Pay attention to the post containing documents above, old documents tell interesting tales don’t they?
As of now there is a meeting hosted by East Whiteland Township on Bishop Tube on April 19. Note the careful wording of the notice because they have invited all the below parties to show up and hopefully all the below parties will show up considering the fact that some of them are now contacting residents right? I think this meeting is a demonstration of good faith on the part of East Whiteland Township. Here’s hoping all invited show up to the party, can’t we all agree?
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:
I don’t know what else to call this post other than the address. If you go on Bacton Hill Road, we all pass it. It is after the walking/running trail breaks over the road and it is farther up on the right. It’s a parcel of land owned by Great Valley School District. It’s up the road from where the Great Valley Community Organization calls home.
Applications: 1. Sketch Plan: Great Valley Community Organization: A.) Sketch plan for a proposed 41,128 SF athletic programs building, with a potential phase 2 for an additional 21,866 SF of building area. Playing fields are also proposed. The property is located on N. Bacton Hill Road, is 7 acres in size and zoned Industrial. B.) Conditional Use: To disturb an area of steep slope to permit the installation of an access driveway, parking and stormwater facilities as outlined as a conditional use in Section 200-57.F(4)
I have absolutely NO as in ZERO issue with the Great Valley Community Organization. They do great things in Chester County. BUT that land they are talking of acquiring part of was part of a huge extraordinarily controversial land purchase by Great Valley School District a few years ago. So extremely controversial it even made a Wikipedia page on the district. Here is a screen shot in case it disappears:
On September 15, 2008, the school board voted and unanimously approved the purchase of 49.4 acres (200,000 m2) of land for approximately $6.6 million. Located at 51 Bacton Hill Road, Malvern, this “Bacton Hill Land Purchase” generated some controversy amongst the public for two reasons: (1) the purchase was not discussed with the public prior to the meeting during which it was first announced, voted, and passed, and (2) the purchase price based on two land appraisals was brought under scrutiny when it was discovered that the brother of the real estate agent who set the price was involved with forming both appraisals.
Central to the controversy was the lack of public awareness, but also that the school board’s reason for the purchase was stated, “it is prudent to acquire real estate for the District’s potential future use.” The number of students educated by the district has not significantly increased, so many objected that there is no foreseeable “future use” and that the purchase was made in haste.
The two independent appraisals of the land’s price were brought into question as well because of the high price. After the purchase was completed, the board released a statement about the land acquisition, saying, “the per acre cost may seem high (at $135,000). But the purchase price is lower than two appraisals conducted on the site.”
Fueling the controversy, a member of the public requested the two appraisals be released under Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Laws. It was discovered that the two appraisals were both conducted by the same appraisal company, not two independent entities. Further, the appraisal company was owned by the brother of the real estate agent who first approached and ultimately sold the land to the district. Concerned over apparent misconduct, the appraisals and sale were eventually referred to the U.S. Attorney by this same member of the public. This information was presented to the Board during public comments at the School Board Meeting on March 16, 2009. Several questions were asked concerning who was involved in the deal, and who knew what when. The Board did not respond during the meeting, but the District’s lawyer attached a recorded statement to the public video of the meeting, stating, “the board considered these statements after the meeting, and while certain of them were factually accurate, the presentation was incomplete.”
The land is still held by the School District, and no confirmation or denial has officially been given. However, significant fallout appears to have occurred. Two weeks after the March 16 meeting, on April 1, Superintendent Rita Jones announced she intended to retire during the upcoming summer. In addition, all 4 board members who are up for re-election in the November 2009 election announced they would not seek re-election. Further, because Jack McDowell stepped down in April due to illness, only 4 of the 9 board members who were involved in the land deal were still on the board as of December.
Apparently this land purchase was a huge issue. It appeared in a bunch of newspapers:
EAST WHITELAND — A resident announced he has delivered documents regarding the Great Valley School District’s controversial land purchase to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Philadelphia.
Bruce Chambers, a member of the Great Valley Stakeholders and a candidate for school board, raised this issue regarding the Bacton Hill Road property at a mid-March meeting.
“It is unconscionable that the school board would be willing to spend over $6 million of our tax dollars on a land deal that was handled in this manner,” Chambers said in interviews last week.
The school board announced that it had purchased the 49.4-acre property at 51 Bacton Hill Road at its Sept. 15, 2008 meeting. The property, owned by Highmont Investment LP, was purchased by the school district for $6.6 million.
The board first disclosed that it had made a purchase at the Sept. 2, 2008 work session meeting.
Chambers has taken issue with several aspects of the purchase, including that he believes the property was not properly assessed. In particular, he believes it’s a serious issue that the real estate agent for the school district had the property assessed by his brother, who is a licensed appraiser.
This issue apparently tore the area apart at the time. The former school superintendent in Great Valley had the reputation of ruling with an iron fist, a veritable Queen Victoria. (Read an article placed in the Philadelphia Inquirer circa 1998.) And she was no stranger to controversy (see her Main Line priced salary circa 2007):
Despite pleas from dozens of Great Valley School District residents saying that Superintendent Rita Jones was paid too much and has not produced a top-quality academic program, a lame-duck school board voted by a narrow margin Monday to extend her contract for four more years.
About 150 people attended the meeting. The board vote was 5-4. Residents opposed to Jones’ new contract said that a 2006-07 salary listing they obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Education shows she was the seventh highest paid in the state during the last school year.
Jones’ current contract ends next year; the new one runs to August 2012. She is making about $204,000 this school year and will get just over $210,000 next August, with 3 percent increases in each subsequent year.
Jones, 58, who just started her 14th year in the 4,000-student district, is the longest-serving superintendent in Chester County.
Voting for the contract were board president Susanne Carr, Kevin McTear, Elizabeth McGarrigle, Katherine Pettiss and Melanie Scott. Voting no were vice president Nicholas Vastardis, Salwa Raven, Ralph Tang and Eugene Kozik….
Steven Kantrowitz said that Great Valley was a small district “with a very, very, very high superintendent’s contract.” To loud applause, he said: “It’s time, I submit to you, for a change.”
Jones and the board sat at the front of the room, listening impassively.
The rift became very public on Sept. 17 when the Great Valley school board, by a 5-4 vote, extended Superintendent Rita Jones’ contract four years, despite a contingent of residents at the meeting who spoke out against Jones.
Many district residents were incensed that the only notice of the vote on Jones’ extension was a posting on the district Web site on Sept. 14. About 20 residents formed Great Valley Stakeholders, a group organized with the goal of changing the direction of the school board.
Members of the group helped spread the word of a write-in campaign for David Barratt, 45, to unseat the current board president, Susanne Carr (who voted in favor of Jones’ extension), who was running for reelection in Region I….
Using Tredyffrin-Easttown and Radnor School Districts for comparison, Chambers contends that spending per student is too high in Great Valley, and hasn’t resulted in a concurrent increase in test scores.
“We’re not saying the district is horrible; it’s a good district, but when you look at what we’re spending per student, we’re not getting what other districts are getting,” said Chambers, 56, father of two Great Valley High School grads….
The school board and Jones
All of Chambers’ claims stem from his central complaint that the board works too closely with Jones and the district, rather than in the oversight role school boards are intended for by law.
“The concern we have is not focused strictly on Rita Jones,” he said. “Our concern is more that the school board is not doing its job, that they’re not holding the superintendent accountable, not establishing meaningful goals. That they’re essentially allowing the superintendent to run the school board as well as the schools.”
So then you skip forward to 2009 when this land deal occurs. And after the land deal there seems to be a mass exodus from the school board and even Superintendent Rita Jones announces retirement? (Here is an article about her replacement Alan Lonoconus. Now since he has retired it is Regina C. Speaker Palubinsky, Ed.D.)
Two weeks after the March 16 meeting, on April 1, Superintendent Rita Jones announced she intended to retire during the upcoming summer. In addition, all 4 board members who are up for re-election in the November 2009 election announced they would not seek re-election. Further, because Jack McDowell stepped down in April due to illness, only 4 of the 9 board members who were involved in the land deal were still on the board as of December.
So flash forward to now and the school district is now selling this land? And supposedly at the same price per acre as they bought it? Really? Is that true? And this site is close to the old lethal Foote Mineral Site? Mind you Bacton Hill Road is no stranger to industrial stuff. See what I found on a Google cache.
Bacton Hill is such a weird configuration of quasi industrial and industrial sites along with warehouses and such.
If the school district land is what is being sold or is under consideration for selling to that Great Valley Community Organization, I think there should be like two phases of environmental impact audits, right? And if the Great Valley School District isn’t interested in further testing, in my humble opinion the Great Valley Community Organization should pay for testing.
People have said there is some kind of report detailing past issues with railroads and chemicals and a pipeline company and clean outs across the road? Is any of this true? I am just concerned because well, you have to admit there are quite a few environmental hot spots around there.
Sorry I have a thing about places that might leave people potentially glowing in the dark (figuratively speaking) .
So anyway, I posed my questions to the Great Valley School District and others and these are the documents I got out of the conversations:
Look sorry to stir the pot, but if the Great Valley School District is going to sell this land to the Great Valley Community Organization, fine. BUT if there are going to be a lot of kids and so on around and active on this property would it hurt for the Great Valley School District to do some additional testing?
(A) A bunch of years have passed and what they have is old data and
(B) the whole land purchase was so steeped in issues and controversy why not make a clean break of it?
Instead of (C) telling me and others “The school board did not deem any additional testing necessary after the follow up investigation and testing on the site”?
We know so much more now how to be better stewards of the land and testing in a lot of cases is faster and improved so why not do it? Why not do things right this time?
I am sorry but this is why people no matter where they live have issues with school districts. Everything is done like they are secret societies with their own language and secret handshakes yet we the taxpayers pay for it all?
Look I appreciate the Great Valley School District sending me documents and answering questions but does anyone want to relive 2008 with the Great Valley School District? If the answer is “no”, how about some updated testing? Just to make sure that the amazing Great Valley Community Organization isn’t inheriting issues with this land that no one knows about? So many people have skeedaddled from the Great Valley School District since this land purchase happened on Bacton Hill Road, so why not better safe than sorry? After all even the current superintendent would have heard about this controversy considering she came from neighboring Phoenixville School District?
And again, if the Great Valley School District doesn’t want to do the testing, the Great Valley Community Organization should strongly consider it.
Bishop Tube. East Whiteland’s TCE albatross own by the developer Brian O’Neill. It sits like a dangerous slumbering giant on the heels of General Warren Village in Malvern. (Please note the cool old General Warren photos a friend lent to me to use.)
At the November meeting of the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors(which was recorded!) Bishop Tube came up again.
Anyway, the guy was sort of posturing in my humble opinion (it is what he is paid to do, right?) and there were sliding comments to the effect of East Whiteland wants the site cleaned up and they need this steep slope accommodation, do I have that right? Well umm THEY SHOULD HAVE TO CLEAN UPBISHOP TUBEREGARDLESS, RIGHT???
Maybe I have listened to or attended too many O’Neill development meetings over the years but that sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
O’Neill will supposedly be at this public hearing. So listen up East Whiteland especially General Warren Village residents: if you worry about the site and the litigation over the TCE in the aquifer (i.e. chemicals leeching into ground and water), you need to attend this hearing. What was it someone said to me about Bishop Tube? That it was a potential flipper baby site? Crude and harsh but could be very true if not properly remediated, right? And how many residents of General Warren and former employees have died over the years from all sort of cancers? Is it all coincidence?
East Whiteland doesn’t have to say yes and I have to tell you Supervisor Bill Holmes expressed concerns several times. Supervisor John Mott was unimpressive and the other guy (Wrably?) didn’t open his mouth and sat there pretty much mute. Many thanks to Bill Holmes for getting it on this issue. I know I have been tough on Bill in the past, but I have to say I have taken the time to start to get to know him and he is a good guy.
BUT you can’t enact change or be heard on the record if you do not attend the hearing.
I have been told about treatment some General Warren residents have received over the years for speaking out about things affecting them, and shall we say what I heard made me wince? And no, I am not recounting exactly what I have been told because I did not witness it, but I believe what I heard.
For anyone living in General Warren Village they have posted a zoning notice at the entrance of the Bishop Tube site regarding the steep slope protection. There will be a meeting on Wed, December 9th at 7:00PM at the East Whiteland Township building. No one can make you go, but suffice it to say you guys are the most directly affected and have the best standing. Although truthfully every resident and taxpayer in East Whiteland has standing. Standing means you have the right to be heard.
I am praying for a Christmas miracle. I am praying East Whiteland residents pack and rock this meeting December 9th.
And oh yes, that lawsuit in Federal Court over Bishop Tube? VERY ACTIVE.
United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
CIVIL DOCKET FOR CASE #: 2:15cv01919GJP
WARREN et al v. JOHNSON MATTHEY, INC. et al
Assigned to: HONORABLE GERALD J. PAPPERT
Cause: 42:6972(a) Solid Waste Disposal Act
URS B. FURRER
HARRITON & FURRER, LLP
84 BUSINESS PARK DR #302
ARMONK, NY 10504
CENTRAL AND WESTERN
CHESTER COUNTY INDUSTRIAL
represented by ALAN PAUL NOVAK
LAMB MCERLANE PC
24 EAST MARKET ST
WEST CHESTER, PA 19381
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
HELEN J. ESBENSHADE
LAMB MCERLANE PC
24 E MARKET ST
WEST CHESTER, PA 19381
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
1500 MARKET ST
PHILADELPHIA, PA 19102
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
PARTNERS, L.P. (AKA O’NEILL DEVELOPMENT YES?)
represented by GARRETT DOUGLAS TREGO
MANKO GOLD KATCHER & FOX
401 CITY AVENUE SUITE 901
BALA CYNWYD, PA 19004
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED
SUZANNE ILENE SCHILLER
MANKO, GOLD, KATCHER & FOX,
401 CITY AVENUE
BALA CYNWYD, PA 19004
I went to Malin Road and stood outside the fences of Bishop Tube today. Totally creepy and deserted. I was glad to see an unmarked police car do a drive by a couple minutes after I got there, the place gave me the willies.
I took photos from outside the fencing on the road. What a weird feeling to be out on such a gloriously beautiful day, yet there was the overwhelming creepiness of the Bishop Tube Site, all abandoned and the only way to describe it was the place seems to radiate negative energy. Don’t see how that feeling will be eradicated by plastic townhouses marching row after row. The site doesn’t appear to be particularly secure and given what appears to be vandalism, nor does itappear as if it has been for years has it?
Staring at the site, I couldn’t help but wonder where the PA DEP was on this? I can find on the Internet where they were in the past, but not in the present. Or the EPA, which is so screwed up just read THIS and THIS and THIS. Here let me share this:
The scene was otherworldly. A river tinted orange by a toxic brew of heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, and other pollutants. Three million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned gold mine in rural southwestern Colorado flows slowly downstream. Communities are shutting off drinking water collection. Vacationers are being warned to avoid contact with the contaminated water.
The cause? None other than a mistake by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Wall Street Journalreported details on the incident Sunday, noting that the spill was initially downplayed by the EPA, and that it was much larger than first reported. Most importantly, as of Sunday, the mine is still releasing wastewater at a rate of about 500 gallons per minute. The pollution incident is ongoing.
This latest toxic release is yet another example of the EPA spectacularly failing at its primary mission. As I’ve expressed in this space before, the government is not particularlycompetent at environmental remediation and management.
When you read things written by critics of the PA DEP, it is often not much better. Look these government agencies have good intentions but they all seem to get in their own way and in the end are the accomplishing their goals of protecting all of us?
The Pennsylvania DEP has been criticized for its poor record of providing information on fracking-related contamination to state residents. In April, a Pennsylvania Superior Court case claimed that due to the way DEP operates and its lack of public record, it’s impossible for citizens to know about cases where private wells, groundwater and springs are contaminated by drilling and fracking.
“The DEP must provide citizens with information about the potential harm coming their way,” John Smith, one of the attorneys representing municipalities in the lawsuit, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If it doesn’t record and make available the violations records then it is denying the public accurate information, which is unconscionable.”
When is the last time the PA DEP or EPA took a good look at sites like Bishop Tube in Pennsylvania? These aren’t new sexy disasters, they are plodding along existing trouble spots so now that there don’t appear to be lots of government money floating around for clean up ( a la “Growing Greener“) who cares about these toxic sites like Bishop Tube?
I happened to check the court dockets on the Bishop Tube litigation mention in prior posts when I came home and there are a few more filings on the case of ordinary hard-working people vs, everyone involved around Bishop Tube. Here are the two most interesting:
Apparently although The Daily Local did that curtain raiser of an article a couple of weeks ago, no other media seems interested in a toxic superfund site in bucolic Chester County? Or are there media inquiries and other inquiries starting to foment and ferment behind the scenes?
Here are a couple of gems from all this legal stuff:
From the plaintiffs’ memorandum (2:15-cv-01919 (GJP) filed 8/10/15):
Page 4: “The Plaintiffs have alleged that, during the Defendants’ respective ownership and operation thereof, they discharged hazardous substances into the environmental which have migrated onto and into the Plaintiffs’ property including the Plaintiffs’ drinking water. It is further alleged that the Defendants have failed to remediate the contamination, the regulatory authorities have failed to require the Defendants to remediate the contamination and additional response work will be necessary.”
Page 6 “It is alleged in the Complaint that, during their respective periods of ownership and operation of the Bishop Tube site, the Defendants used or permitted the use of hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (“TCE”), during the manufacturing processes for their seamless stainless steel and other products and that, as a result of the Defendants’ ownership and operations at the Bishop Tube site, hazardous substances, including TCE, were disposed into the environment, including the Bishop Tube site’s soils and groundwater. See Complaint,¶¶34-35. It is further alleged that subsurface migration of contaminated groundwater from the Bishop Tube site has and continues to contaminate the aquifer beneath the Bishop Tube site and beneath off-site premises including the Plaintiffs’ home. See Complaint, ¶36.”
Page 7 “Accordingly, in or about 1999, the PADEP took over response actions at the Bishop Tube site, which included periodic sampling of soil, surface water, groundwater, vapor intrusion pathway analysis and maintenance of monitoring wells in the contaminated aquifer as well as the installation of a soil vapor extraction and air sparging system designed to capture and remove contamination from subsurface soils at the Bishop Tube site. See Complaint, ¶¶42-43.
However, none of the Defendants have taken any steps to actively remediate the contamination that originated on the Bishop Tube site, which has and continues to migrate onto the Warren property and neither the EPA nor the PADEP have taken any steps to compel such remedial activity. See Complaint, ¶44. Further response action is necessary to abate the release of the hazardous substances at the Bishop Tube site which have and continue to migrate onto the Warren property. See Complaint, ¶45.”
A Notice of Intent to Sue was served on all Defendants as well as the EPA and PADEPon December 8, 2014, to which no one responded”
Page 11: “III. Plaintiffs’ RCRA Claim Must Not Be Dismissed
Johnson Matthey next argues that the Plaintiffs’ RCRA claim must be dismissed because it does not adequately allege an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment” and because the State is diligently addressing the contamination.
However, as described in detail above, the Complaint alleges that TCE contamination from the Bishop Tube site has migrated into the Plaintiffs’ well water. TCE is a volatile organic compound “used mainly as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers.
Trichloroethylene is not thought to occur naturally in the environment. However, it has been found in underground water sources and many surface waters as a result of the manufacture,use, and disposal of the chemical.” There is evidence that TCE affects the developmental and nervous systems in humans and is also carcinogenic. Specifically, there is evidence that TCE can cause kidney cancer and limited evidence for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver cancer as well as various tumors in animals. See United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxic Substances Portal for TCE, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/substances/toxsubstance.asp?toxid=30 (last visited August 7,2015).
Accordingly, it is respectfully submitted that it is disingenuous for Johnson Matthey to claim that Plaintiffs have not adequately alleged sufficient imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment to sustain a RCRA claim.”
Page 13: “Conclusion
Simply stated, in support of their federal CERCLA and RCRA claims, the Plaintiffs have alleged that: (1) the Defendants, including Johnson Matthey, discharged hazardous substances, including TCE, into the environment at the Bishop Tube site which have migrated onto the Plaintiffs’ property and, specifically, into their drinking water; (2) that the Defendants have failed to remediate the contamination; (3) that the regulatory authorities have failed to require the Case 2:15-cv-01919-GJP Document 6 Filed 08/10/15 Page 12 of 13 10 Defendants to remediate the contamination; and (4) that additional response work will be necessary. Indeed, TCE is a carcinogenic. Based on the foregoing, it is respectfully submitted that the Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts, which must be presumed true for purposes of this Motion, to withstand a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the FRCP”
From First Amended Complaint With Jury Demand:
Page 5: 37: “During their respective periods of ownership and operation of the Bishop Tubesite, the Defendants used or permitted the use of hazardous substances, including trichloroethylene (”TCE”), during the manufacturing processes for their seamless stainless steel and other products.”
Ok above are just snippets of the legal documents, quotes, excerpts. You can read for yourself the entire thing as they are uploaded in this post:
I did not create any of this it is all on the court record.
I am a cancer survivor. I would not wish that on anyone. I have also known people who have seen their children through cancer and trust me, it is too gut wrenching for words. In my opinion based on the research available to publicly peruse, this is site is toxic is it not? And then there is General Warren Village. Those residents deserve peace of mind don’t they? They have always been directly affected by Bishop Tube haven’t they?
I am a realist. This might be a creepy site but it is this chunk of land that developers are salivating over (don’t know if they are glowing in the dark from walking around it, however.) This site will be made into something although really it should be cleaned up and left alone since it is also my opinion that this site will take years to properly remediate, and can’t you agree that is reasonable?
But the thing is this: a plan like that not only affects people who want their piece of the American Dream and want to live in gorgeous Chester County who might purchase these cram plan slab on grade no basement wonders if they are built, but potentially every east Whiteland resident in the future, correct?
How can East Whiteland say for certain they would not ever become a party over litigation surrounding this site? They can’t, can they? And they have an obligation to current and future residents to see beyond the shiny promises of developers oh so familiar to them, see beyond and some new ratables down the road, and must put their heads down and see that this site is properly remediated and even get alternate land uses investigated, right? The bottom line is the owner of the land knows how to remediate this properly, they have the experience, correct?
Approving a development plan here while this litigation is ongoing and remediation isn’t complete can be considered a case of putting the cart before the horse, yes? And why is it all we hear is about the developer planning on “capping vapors” with the concrete slabs for the townhouses, yet the current litigation mentions aquifer again and again which is ground water, drinking water, and so on, right? A little different from vapors, right?
East Whiteland has a lot of development balls in the air and should we worry about how the land planning with all the developer driven zoning overlays are getting done?
East Whiteland, you have to do this right. Lives depend upon it. Please.
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.)
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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 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:
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 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 Follycost 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.
So I sat there last night and read the articles and came back full circle to my original thought: EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PRIVATE GAIN cloaked as EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE.
You see, if Sunoco can get public utility status from the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) they can ride over the heads of any homeowner and municipality can’t they? With their public utility status comes the power of eminent domain, doesn’t it? They say power corrupts, and can we agree in this case it will indeed?
It is out with the old and in with the new at the 500-acre waterfront facility formerly known as the Sunoco Marcus Hook Refinery, now the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.
Workers last week ripped down aging petroleum-processing equipment, part of a labyrinth of machinery that has produced gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for more than a century. Other crews built cryogenic storage tanks more than 130 feet tall with three-foot-thick walls that will hold the future: new fuels from the prolific Marcellus Shale region.
Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., a pipeline company that bought the property for $60 million last year from its sister company, Sunoco Inc., is converting the site into a major center for processing and shipping natural gas liquids.
It In August, Sunoco Logistics won PUC approval setting the stage to convert its cross-state pipeline for ethane. PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson endorsed the move.
“Mariner East not only links producers with new markets, but it also represents a link between the commonwealth’s citizens, well-paying jobs, and a more independent domestic energy future,” he said.
Now Powelson may be asked to play a role in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward. in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward.
So Sunoco was previously just shipping this stuff out of Pennsylvania, right? So if they start peddling the product to residents of Pennsylvania instead of just sucking it out of people’s back yards and corn fields and forests it looks better before the the PUC, right?
Even Moveon.org has gotten involved this is getting so bad. If you live in Chester County or in Pennsylvania, have you signed their petition ? (HINT: you can find it at the bottom of this post.)
As per the Inquirer environmental groups responding thus far are the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council, the Pipeline Safety Coalition and the Mountain Watershed Association.
Now if I were Sunoco, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network alone would make me nervous. Which brings me to something I heard. Is it true that Sunoco has retained the former Philadelphia head of the D.E.P or something like that? Some guy named Michael Krancer now with Blank Rome?
A man I know and respect, the former head of the Lower Merion Conservancy Mike Weilbacher wrote about this guy last year in Main Line Media News:
For two years, Bryn Mawr’s Michael Krancer sat on arguably the hottest seat in Harrisburg during one of its hottest times. Until April 15, he was secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, charged with, among other things, pushing forward with Governor Corbett’s election promise of full-speed-ahead fracking.
And he has been unabashedly pro-fracking, writing in a November op-ed piece that the “Marcellus shale formation is the global superstar of natural gas formations and… a key driver in true American energy independence.”
The fifth high-level Corbett official to leave office at the time—another, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources chief Richard Allan was asked to leave only two weeks ago—Krancer often clashed with the state’s environmental interests, the word “controversial” attached to his name in many headlines over the last two years.
I caught up with the former secretary, looking decidedly relaxed, last week in Saxby’s, hoping to probe the last two years with him—after all, it’s not too often a neighbor gets appointed to DEP chief. My goal was to let him tell his story in his words — not argue the merits of his policies, not debate fracking, not ask him the same questions he’s been asked by thousands of other reporters, but instead to find out his current and future plans, including a possible run for Pennsylvania Governor in 2016….On fracking, the core of the controversy, I observed that few Lower Merion residents likely support the practice, Southeastern Pennsylvania being a hotbed of anti-fracking fervor. “Once people go out and see it (fracking),” he replied, “it becomes de-mystified. The drilling rig is only there temporarily, and before, during and after the process you don’t even see the rig. And when it’s done, all that’s left is a piping mechanism.
“I maintain now,” he continued, that it can and has been done safely and carefully—that’s what regulation is about. We have to be careful. Like any operation, the environmental impact has to be managed—and people who do it spend a lot of time managing the environmental impact.”
This is a big article and I found it fascinating. And if this is Sunoco’s new white knight, how does that happen? Or is the DEP not so environmentally sensitive any longer? In just 2008 the PA DEP was filing suit against Sunoco and now this to contemplate? And do you remember what that suit was about? Wasn’t it a crazy 12000-gallon gasoline spill from a ruptured pipeline in Westmoreland County, PA?
Sunoco also filed notice Monday with the PUC that it had retained the Blank Rome L.L.P. law firm to represent it before the PUC. The Blank Rome team is headed by Michael L. Krancer, Gov. Corbett’s former secretary of environmental protection.
(So in case you wanted another reason why no one should vote for Tom Corbett ever again, here is yet another reason, right?)
Everyone should indeed sign the MoveOn.org petition linked below. But people in general need to raise hell with Harrisburg. Our state government is a cesspool of toxic waste water and no matter what our political beliefs, we need to act now. Remember all the horrors we have heard over the years about strip mining? Can it be contemplated that will be a walk in the park if Sunoco gets their way with the PUC? After all if they are changing up lawyers and changing strategy they are hunkering down to fight by any means possible aren’t they?
Eminent domain for private gain is heinous. And eminent domain for private gain cloaked in fake public purpose is even more evil.
Sunoco is digging in Chester County. Time to bring it.
And if you want to contact the PUC they have this convoluted website, but here is the equivalent of the “office directory“:
Chairman & Commissioners
Chairman Robert F. Powelson Phone: 717-787-4301
Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Phone: 717-772-0692
Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer Phone: 717-783-1763
Commissioner Gladys M. Brown Phone: 717-787-1031
Commissioner James H. Cawley Phone: 717-783-1197
The Executive Offices
Jan H. Freeman, Executive Director Phone: 717-787-1035
Director of Regulatory Affairs Phone: 717-783-8156
Lou Ann Hess, Administrative Officer Phone: 717-783-8156
Office of Communications
Bureau Director’s Office
Tom Charles, Director Phone: 717-787-9504
Lori Shumberger, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9998
Jennifer Kocher, Press Secretary Phone: 717-787-5722
Community Relations Phone: 717-787-5722
Office of Administrative Law Judge
Bureau Director’s Office
Charles E. Rainey Jr., Chief Administrative Law Judge Phone: 717-787-1191
Pokim Park, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9959
Kim Hafner, Legal Division Supervisor Phone: 717-705-3822
Herbert R. Nurick, Mediation Coordinator Phone: 717-783-5428
Cindy Lehman, ADR Mediator Phone: 717-783-5413
Susan Hoffner, Case Control Officer Phone: 717-787-4497
I would also say people like Duane Milne, Dan Truitt, and Andy Dinniman need to be contacted. And if no one calls you back from their offices, contact them again. Elected officials work for us, not the other way around. And again, sign the MoveOn Petition.
If you have media contacts or contacts with any other property rights or environmental groups, contact them. Use social media. Don’t be shy. This affects all of us in Pennsylvania if Sunoco has their way with the PUC, not just Chester County.
I am all for capitalism, don’t misunderstand me. However, what I don’t like is capitalism at the expense of where and how we live. And that pretty much sums up Sunoco and their quest for pipeline domination.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal environmental officials now estimate more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil — double the initial estimates — leaked from a pipeline into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio.
Meanwhile, Sunoco Logistics said Monday that the pipeline has been repaired and re-opened. Sunoco shut off the stretch of Mid-Valley Pipeline from Hebron, Ky., to Lima, Ohio, early March 18 after a leak was confirmed.
Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said under a federally approved plan, a specially engineered clamp was placed on the 20-inch diameter pipeline, which had a 5-inch crack that leaked oil. The clamp was tested before oil flow resumed Sunday evening.
Shields declined to say how much of the oil supply was disrupted in the last week in a system that runs about 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. He said the information is considered internal company business…..The oil leaked into an intermittent stream and acre-sized marshy area in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve just west of Cincinnati. Teams from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio EPA and other federal, state and local agencies responded after Sunoco Logistics reported the leak at about 1 a.m. EDT March 18….. some small wildlife has been affected by contamination.
Define “some”? I have friends with existing pipelines going through their property where Sunoco is drooling to put more. These are more rural friends with land that looks like a nature preserve because it is so beautiful and full of wildlife and scenic natural water sources.
How did this argument become “Not In My Back Yard”? I appreciate the passion and concern but to say move it a mile down the road only shifts the burden onto another community.
That was never the reasons for fighting this to begin with.
The real issue is that a for profit corporation is walking over cities, towns, and communities on its way to higher profits for their investors. If we use NIMBY in this fight WE WILL LOSE.
For me it has always been about stopping the process and not allow Sunoco to steal from our state to ship 90% away. There were people in the Northeast region this winter that were freezing due to a lack of propane, while Sunoco stockpiled it. This should be unacceptable for everyone
I have to say I feel this person is correct about the NIMBY thing and makes several good points. Chester County communities should band together whether they are immediately affected or not. This is a “big picture” issue as well as being intensely personal to those affected right now.
NIMBY is Not In My Back Yard. I thank the good lord above I don’t have Sunoco in my back yard right now. But I could. Most of us in Chester County are all close enough to Sunoco and other existing pipelines. So I wholeheartedly support my neighbors’ efforts in neighboring municipalities — I don’t want this in my back yard either!
Sunoco Logistics as has been said repeatedly in the media is applying to the Public Utility Commission to become a utility for natural gas purposes. The cliff notes version is if they get this they more easily get the power of eminent domain basically to seize property when they want under the guise of eminent domain for public purpose. It’s not so public purpose, this is to positively impact their corporate bottom line so in my humble opinion doesn’t that make it eminent domain for private gain? How despicable, right? Do we work hard so we can live in beautiful Chester County so they can take our land and destroy what we have worked hard for??
If you think that Sunoco’s desire to be honest should not be questioned, then here is something to think about.
In Sunoco’s filing with FERC (OR13-9-000) they state that they have already committed 90% of the product to ship (par. 5). That leaves 10% for domestic use. They also cite that FERC has not established a minimum percentage of capacity that must be set aside (par. 14). Sunoco claims there is no major market in the Northeast for the product (par. 4). Apparently the 55,317,240 (2010 census.gov) that live in the Northeast region are nothing compared to the Norwegian population of 5,109,059 (wikepedia.com) Our question would be if PECO claimed the same thing and wanted to ship excess electricity to another country would this then be alright with FERC. The answer would most likely be no. PECO is required to allow any and all customers to tap their lines. A Sunoco representative, Joseph McGinn—Senior manager, Public Affairs, has already stated when asked about tapping into the line “you cannot connect into it, but if PECO wanted to get it to you then that would be a possibility.” Sunoco Pipeline LP/Sunoco Logistics LP wants us to believe it is OK for them to ship our resource to another country, not pay taxes to the townships along the way, devalue our homes & regions, and destroy the place we call home only to put money into their investor’s & politician’s pockets.
Sunoco Logistics comes in and pays once for use of your land. You don’t get an annual rental fee, if you buy a property with a pipeline from them already there you get nothing, correct? Except if you have pipeline running through your property you get all the risk of having a pipeline in your backyard, don’t you? Which includes not merely environmental concerns but economic concerns as well, right? If you don’t think property values of residential real estate won’t be affected by a pipeline running through it, I would have to say my opinion is you are ever so sadly mistaken. It doesn’t take much to adversely affect a property value does it?
In Chester County a great deal of us don’t have access to natural gas to heat with. Why? Because the only gas lines are pipelines and are Sunoco’s and some other companies for their profit. They aren’t for residential usage and supply. We can have propane tanks, oil tanks, or heat with wood or wood pellets. But that gas is for other people.
Not only does Sunoco want to suck our natural resources out and ship them elsewhere and not give residents access, they don’t even pay their fair share of taxes for using the land and sucking it dry . Which is exactly why as a Republican I am saying people all across Pennsylvania should have yet another reason to send Governor Tom Corbett packing. Start with sending him a message in the upcoming gubernatorial primary. Write in Daffy Duck if you have to.
I have also personally decided to avoid filling up the car at Sunoco gas stations whenever possible. We have plenty of other brands and stations to use out here, and well Sunoco gas stations are the most expensive most of the time anyway, so it’s also being more economical. Yes, I am talking a personal boycott…personal choice and all that if you care to embrace the concept, right?
A website called ChescoPaGreen has a lot of information. I am a visual person so the maps they have really hit home. Chester County is literally all carved up by these pipelines.
It is time to stand up to Sunoco and the rest of big and small oil criss-crossing Chester County. The ratio of risk vs. reward is skewed in the favor of big and small oil and any politician or related company or person in their pocket. We as a collective of residents are bearing the burdens and the risks. Safety, property values, environmental concerns (how many of you out there depend on wells for your water?), and so on. We don’t see much in the way of benefits and these companies aren’t even paying their share of taxes let alone actually compensating people properly who have had these pipelines carve up their properties.
If you can’t go to meetings, please contact the Public Utility Commission and ask them to DENY Sunoco. Contact television stations and ask them to join our regional news websites (like PaNewz.com), regional and local newspapers like The Daily Local, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Main Line Media News and give residents more of a voice. Also contact elected officials. On every level for local to Harrisburg to Washington DC, but remember a lot of politicians take donations from big business and individuals involved. You probably can’t expect much from lame duck elected officials, but contact them anyway. Like Congressman Jim Gerlach, for example. He has plenty of pipeline near where he calls home in Chester County.
Again, I didn’t think this would be an issue I really cared about and I was somewhat ambivalent for a long time. But then I moved to Chester County. We live in a beautiful county and we have sacrificed enough already between developers gobbling up ever scenic acre they can get and existing pipe lines.
I am just thinking enough is the word of the day. As in Chester County has given enough.
Time to hit the pause button.
I don’t have a pipeline running through my property. But I could. That makes it more than enough for me as a Chester County resident to say “NO”. Please say “NO” as well.