Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Developer: New fill meets safety standards

Developer: New fill meets safety standards
By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer) Published: October 20, 2009
Material used to reclaim a mine pit in a demonstration project at Hazleton's amphitheater site would meet the same standards as fill delivered there the past three years, a developer said.

William Rinaldi of Hazleton Creek Properties LLC and his consultant, Mark McClellan of Evergreen Environmental, said they proposed the project while searching for material to reclaim the 277-acre site.

"We basically asked the question: What is out there that is safe as regulated fill - a dry, inert material that could present a beneficial material to expedite the reclamation?" McClellan said Monday.
They proposed using a fine material reclaimed from construction and demolition sites, which they displayed in a jar. The material is gray and contains pebbly pieces.

In an application to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Hazleton Creek proposed using the fine material as part of the fill for a 60-acre pit on the property. The project will test whether the fine material can be used as mine fill statewide when mixed with regulated fill or dredged material. Mixtures of the materials also will be tested to determine if they can be compacted sufficiently to support buildings such as restaurants and stores that Mayor Lou Barletta envisions opening near the proposed amphitheater.
While the proposal is a research and development project, Hazleton Creek said the fine material would be tested to the same standards as regulated fill now brought to the site. Regulated fill includes soil, rock, stone, concrete, used asphalt, brick and block, and the company also has used material dredged from waterways as fill since starting to reclaim the property in 2006.

Dredged material became scarce after Hazleton Creek entered a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove some of the substance stored along the Delaware River at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia.
"To my detriment, I proved dredge is safe. I can't get material," Rinaldi said.He said he still might mix dredged material with fly ash or kiln dust, as a one state permit allows, if he can get the material.
Hazleton Creek also has permission to use fly ash as fill north of the mammoth pit, but Rinaldi said he seeks contracts with ash suppliers before using that material.  In the demonstration project using fine material, the testing procedures include sampling every 1,000 cubic yards. Seven pages list levels of metals, organic compounds and other substances that the results must fall below.

Tests would be done before shipment so batches that fail won't be put on trains or trucks for delivery to Hazleton. Ground water will be monitored at wells every three months, and the tests will be done monthly if contamination appears in the well beneath the pit.  The fine material originates at construction and demolition recycling centers like one that Rinaldi is opening in Philadelphia. At the start of the process, workers sort the material.

"They take out all the nasties. You've got to take out all the lead-based paint. You take out the asbestos. You take out the exit signs," McClellan said.

Workers also set aside board longer than 2 feet, bricks and blocks, according to the proposal that Hazleton Creek submitted to the state. Next bulldozers or other heavy equipment run over the material to crush it and then pour it through screens that block material larger than 2 inches across, the proposal said. Material that does reach Hazleton will contain lower concentrations of metals and other substances than a state permit requires. Also, the material will contain lower concentrations than the overburden rock and other material on the site. Lead in the fill material won't exceed the standard set for the site of 943 parts per billion, and fill used on the surface will contain less than 450 ppb of lead.

"So if we bring a material that is cleaner than what is on the site, how does that present a harm?" McClellan said. He also said the company agreed to pay for extra tests that the state requested for substances such as for gamma radiation and asbestos. Radiation could come from smoke detectors, McClellan said.
Hazleton Creek has spent $4 million on the Hazleton site, including $1.5 million on wells and groundwater testing and $2 million for a rail line. Rinaldi said rail decreased truck traffic to the site and reduced the carbon footprint of the operation. He and McClellan said Hazleton Creek's efforts will eliminate a hazard that the pit poses and will reduce acid runoff. The company also will push ashes and bottles from an old landfill into the pit and cover them. McClellan said the ashes contain higher lead levels than fill that Hazleton Creek will import, but a state agency proposed putting the ashes into the pit before Hazleton Creek became interested in the site.

Without the company's efforts, Rinaldi asked where Hazleton would obtain the money or material to fill the pit and reclaim the rest of the site for an amphitheater, stores, restaurants and other businesses. The 10 million cubic yards of material needed to reclaim the entire 277 acres would cost $80 million at $8 a ton for clean fill, according to an estimate that the company gave.

"I'm not saying I'm the answer to all, but let's say I left," Rinaldi said. "Where's the money coming from? The taxpayers are burned already."

With the city facing a deficit budget, Barletta has asked Rinaldi to speed up the purchase of the amphitheater site, which Hazleton Creek last year agreed to buy after five years through annual payments of $600,000.
"We had some talks. We're trying to work on some solutions. We want to see the city thrive," Rinaldi said.

The use of this material should include an environmental monitoring program that includes vadose zone monitoring, shallow groundwater monitoring wells, background water quality and biological monitoring, and stormwater or event monitoring.
Just my thoughts

Brian Oram

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