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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pike County - Radon in Water Higher than Anticipated

Pike two-year water study
MILFORD, PA — A two-year study of the Pike County watersheds and ground water resources reveals ground water resources of good quality and good quantity.
The only negative concern centered on the amount of radioactive radon that is exceeding normal levels in 75 percent of the testing wells. Radon is the second-leading cause of cancer in the nation.
The survey, which was conducted through a partnership between the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), found that the water resources in the county are basically sound and free of serious problems, save for the radon.
The report of the survey results was presented to the Pike County Commissioners at their meeting on August 26 by Nicholas Spinelli, PCCD watershed specialist.
The survey results were gathered over two years at 22 observation wells throughout the county.
“Human activity is affecting ground water in the county, depending on the extent of development,” Spinelli said. Ground water is the sole source of drinking water in the county, he said.
None of the effluents measured by the survey exceeded permitted limits, except radon. “Sixty percent of the homes in Pennsylvania have radon in exceeding levels,” he said. “The test wells in the northern part of the county have higher levels and it tapers off as you go south.”
Rich Caridi, commissioners chair, said that it would be advisable to inform the Pike County Builders Association of the presence of radon and encourage them to take measures to mitigate any traces of the gas at construction sites.
“There are several mitigation systems that could be installed in new homes,” Spinelli said.
The survey provides baseline information that will help in monitoring any future contamination that might come from new development, he said.
“The main message from this survey is that what we do on the land has an impact on our drinking water,” said Susan Beecher, director of PCCD.

By Tom Kane, The River Reporter, Volume XXXV No. 36, September 3-9, 2009

Radon in Water Testing - go to

1. The source of the radon is a combination of natural occurring radionuclieds in the consolidated and unconsolidated material.

2. The recommendation to check construction sites is not advisable, but the recommendation should be to encourage testing for radon in air and water as part of a real estate transfer and inspection.

3. IT would be advisable to evaluate the data based on both a horizontal variability and vertical variability and by bedrock type

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Company will test mine fill for radiation

Company will test mine fill for radiation
By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer) Published: October 14, 2009


A company agreed to test mine-filling material for radiation after state environmental officials found deficiencies in its plan for a research and development project at Hazleton's proposed amphitheater site. Hazleton Creek Properties revised its plan to include conducting gamma spectography tests for radioactive energy on fill that it wants to put into a 60-acre mine pit.
The company proposed filling the pit with a mixture of dredged material, regulated fill and fine material from construction and demolition sites.

During the next five years, 1.4 million cubic yards of fill would arrive by truck or train at the site bounded by Routes 924, 93 and 309, according to an application that the company submitted on Aug. 24. On Sept. 23, officials from Hazleton Creek discussed the deficiencies in their application with state officials in Harrisburg. A week later, the company revised its plan to include testing the fine material for radiation, revising tests for selenium and asbestos and looking for radioactive hydrogen in well-water samples.

Through the project the company hopes to speed up work on the site that Mayor Lou Barletta proposed as the home of a 20,000-seat amphitheater and demonstrate a beneficial use for fine material statewide. In its application, Hazleton Creek said a laboratory would keep hazardous substances out of Hazleton by testing the material before it is shipped. The plan called for using GPS devices to note the placement of each load within the pit and for testing groundwater every three months. Tests would occur monthly if a well beneath the pit shows contamination Hazleton Creek also told why the project should last five years and involve 1.4 million cubic yards of material. The state general permit through which the company is applying requires applicants to get special permission for projects lasting more than one year or using more than 50 tons of material. "It is essential that a large quantity of material over a(n) expanded area be used to demonstrate that the proposed performance standards can be achieved," Hazleton Creek wrote in its revised application. The size of the project drew the notice of William Lockwood, a leader of SUFFER or Save Us From Future Environmental Risks, which challenged the previous plans of Hazleton Creek. The most egregious part of this is they're going to put in such an amount in here. If 50 tons is in here and it turns bad, it can be removed," Lockwood said. But 1.4 million cubic yards is too much material for a limited liability corporation such as Hazleton Creek to remove if something goes wrong", Lockwood said.

Lockwood also faulted the logic of saying construction and demolition materials now must be put in landfills, but mixing them with dredged material makes them OK to bury in Hazleton's mines. The mixture of construction and demolition materials and dredged materials hasn't been used as fill anywhere in the United States, House Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-116, who is Hazleton's state representative, said when asking the environmental department to consider the potential risks of the project. Construction and demolition materials could contain hazards such as arsenic, lead, mercury, beryllium, asbestos and PCBs, Eachus said Tuesday in a statement. Eachus also said the volume of material amounts to 40,000 times more than the department usually permits in a demonstration project.

If emergencies develop, Hazleton Creek would the contingency plan that it developed earlier when starting to reclaim the site. The company's application listed other safeguards, such as testing material before shipping, verifying that manifests match deliveries, and sampling for methane and hydrogen sulfide gases. Inside the pit, fill material can contain 943 parts per million of lead, according to a standard set for the site, the application said. Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set limits for lead in soil of 400 ppm in play areas and 1,200 ppm in other areas.

In revisions to the plan, Hazleton Creek said it would monitor blending of material that occurs away from Hazleton at its facilities in Bayonne, N.J., or Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia. Blending also can occur inside the pit with heavy equipment, the application said. The company also agreed to test every 1,000 cubic yards of fine material for volatile organic compounds as part of its sampling routine.
Fine material could be as small as 2 inches in diameter and would result after workers sort construction and demolition material, crush it with bulldozers and sift it through screens.

The process begins when workers remove asbestos, wallboard, lamp ballasts containing mercury and other items from construction and demolition debris. They also would set aside boards and concrete blocks. The remaining material would be processed.
Proportions of dredge, fine material and regulated fill would depend on the characteristics of the substances and performance standards, the application said. The materials would be packed into lifts 2 feet high. After reclaiming land, Hazleton Creek would bore holes through the fill to analyze whether the material can support buildings or other uses. While Hazleton Creek seeks permission to fill the pit as a demonstration project, the company already has approval to import different fill material to the site under two other permits.

One permit lets the company cover a former landfill at the site with dredge material. It can use regulated fill such as brick, block, stone separated from construction and demolition sites and dredged material while building roads and a rail line at the site. Another permit allows the company to combine dredged material with fly ash and kiln dust - fill that the company hasn't tried yet.
During the demonstration project, Hazleton Creek said it also would keep following the procedures set by its existing permits for testing dredged materials and regulated fill.

People will have a chance to comment about a research and development project at Hazleton's proposed amphitheater site, a state spokesman said. John Repetz of the Department of Environmental Protection said a notice about the plan of Hazleton Creek Properties tenatively will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Oct. 24. A 30-day comment period will start after that.

Comments about the research and development project of Hazleton Creek Properties can be directed to: Ronald C. Hassinger, Chief, General Permits/Beneficial Use Section, Division of Municipal and Residual Waste, Bureau of Waste Management, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, P.O. Box 8472, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8472. The phone number is 717-787-7381.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Riparian Zone Buffer Program in Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) will be sponsoring a program on Tuesday, October 27th from 7-9pm to educate residents and municipal officials about the benefits of riparian, or streamside, buffers. The program will be held at the PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center on Route 6 in Hawley, PA.

PCCD will host educators from the Stroud Water Research Center who will present the findings of their research on the importance of Riparian Buffers in preventing sedimentation to streams, curbing non-point source pollution, and providing nutrients to the aquatic food chain on a watershed-wide basis. Stroud Water Research Center Scientists study the physical, chemical, and biological processes of streams and rivers, the life histories of individual organisms, and the ecology of watersheds. Stroud is internationally acclaimed for its pioneering research on streams and rivers.

Riparian buffers are important for good water quality and help to prevent sediment, pesticides, and other pollutants from reaching our streams. Riparian buffers may include multiple types of vegetation along the stream. This vegetation, from grass to trees, is a major source of energy and nutrients for stream communities and is especially important in small headwater streams. Overhanging riparian vegetation keeps streams cool which helps maintain native trout populations and habitats. Buffers also provide valuable habitat for wildlife and are an important travel corridor for a variety of wildlife. Buffers slow floodwaters, thereby helping to maintain stable streambanks and protect downstream property. These, and numerous other benefits, will be discussed throughout the program.

For more information and to register, please contact Nick Spinelli at the Pike County Conservation District, 556 Route 402, Hawley, PA 18428 at 570-226-8220. Financial and other support for this project is provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc. through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pike County Conservation District

556 Rt. 402 Suite 1

Hawley, PA 18428



For more details - visit

Online Distance Learning Programs

Stop the Rip Off - Energy Rates go up - 30%

Bad news today for Pennsylvania families. Because of deregulation and the elimination of state-imposed rate caps, PPL will be raising residential electric rates by nearly 30 percent in 2010!

But it isn't too late to stop this massive increase on household across Pennsylvania. Join me in signing our petition - tell Harrisburg to side with Pennsylvania families not the big utilities:

Today's Allentown Morning Call has the story - "It's Official: PPL Rates to go up 30 percent in 2010." And the details are downright disturbing:

“The 29.7 percent hike means a typical home will spend $378.72 more for electricity in 2010 than it did in 2009. The steep hike in electric bills will come as Lehigh Valley residents and businesses struggle with rising joblessness and falling consumer confidence.”

Such increased utility costs will have a devastating effect on Pennsylvania’s overall economic prospects, when budget shortfalls are already at critical levels…

“This is the worst possible time for consumers and businesses to take such a huge hike in their rates…the result will obviously be that some businesses will have to cut elsewhere, possibly layoffs. For consumers, because electricity is a necessity, there is only so much you can cut,” warned Bethlehem economist Kamran Afshar.

There’s something wrong when corporate utility giants are allowed to charge whatever price they want for our electricity and the only response from Harrisburg is silence.

Join me in demanding that we put preserve the state-imposed rate caps. Let's not let big utilities with no real compeition set their own rates, while Pennsylvania families struggle to get by.


This was a copy of an email I received. My personal call to action is as follows:

1. Implement a program to use energy wisely in your life.
2. Consider - weatherization programs, conservation measures, and improving energy efficiency. and get educated -Participate in training and education sessions on energy conservation and have an energy audit completed.
3. Consider the installation of alternative energy systems, biomass systems, or a ground source system.
4. For online training on alternative energy and conservation, go to

Join your local RC&D COuncil