DEP cleanup at former quarry in Longswamp

The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public meeting and hearing on Thursday, Aug. 2, to outline its plan to clean up contaminated soil at the Oreville Quarry site, a former iron ore quarry in Longswamp Township, Berks County.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be at the Longswamp Township Office at 1112 State St. in Mertztown.

“This meeting provides concerned citizens with the opportunity to ask questions about, and listen to details of, our proposed cleanup plan,” DEP South-central Regional Director Lynn Langer said. “The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) authorizes DEP to take action after presenting our proposal to the public and return this site to a sound environmental state.”

A DEP investigation from November 2002 through May 2003 determined that 12 groundwater wells of residences near the quarry had been contaminated with perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical commonly used in dry cleaning, with eight of the wells having elevated levels.

In August 2003, DEP promptly installed carbon treatment units on eight residences’ wells, which successfully mitigated the contamination. Since the investigation, PCE levels have naturally decreased and the residential wells now consistently meet drinking water standards.

Residents will be given the option of keeping their treatment systems or having them removed. Those choosing to keep a system will assume responsibility for maintaining it.

DEP also sampled at the quarry and found elevated levels of arsenic, barium, cadmium, nickel and lead in the soil and drums of open waste in the quarry. DEP proposes removing the visible drums and debris and placing a permanent soil cap over the remaining affected areas.

During the hearing, the public will have an opportunity to present up to five minutes of oral testimony about the agency’s proposal. For anyone unable to attend, written comment should be submitted to Elise Juers, PA DEP South-central Regional Office, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110, by Sept. 28, when the administrative record will close. DEP will provide a written response to all significant testimony or written comment provided during the public hearing and public comment period.

Those who wish to present oral testimony can register by calling Juers at 717-705-4852 or signing up the night of the hearing. Individuals in need of an accommodation as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact Juers or make accommodations through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at 1-800-654-5984 (TDD).

As required under HSCA, the administrative record will be open for review and comment until Sept. 28. It can be reviewed, by appointment, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at DEP’s South-central Regional Office at the address above. Call 717-705-4852 to make an appointment.

The administrative record may also be reviewed at the Longswamp Township Office by calling 610-682-7388 to make an appointment.

Provided by the Department of Environmental Protection South-central Regional Office.