april fools’ from the pa dep on bishop tube 


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?

For more recent posts on Bishop Tube see:

bishop tube in front of east whiteland march 8

calling erin brockovich?

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

the delaware riverkeeper sends the pa dep’s hatzell a letter…about bishop tube!

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

the tale of the bishop tube documents

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?

Advertisements

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BishopTube…Sample Letter

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

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

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