FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – DECEMBER 9, 2017
Contact: Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726
Birdsboro Power LLC Files CERCLA Case over Contamination on Proposed Power Plant Site
Filing States, “Recent Analyses and Surveys Have Demonstrated Significant Remaining Contamination of PCBs and Other Hazardous Substances at the Site”
Kutztown, PA –
Birdsboro Power LLC is suing the federal government for contamination at the proposed site of a natural gas power plant. On November 21, the company filed the suit in an attempt to recover costs under sections of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA.
According to the court filing, “Recent analyses and surveys have demonstrated significant remaining contamination of PCBs and other hazardous substances at the site.”
“We have been concerned about what dangerous materials might still be on the proposed power plant site,” said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth. “We have seen too many examples recently of regulators who act too quickly to approve projects without doing the due diligence. This filing is the first indication that our fears were not unfounded. The construction of both the power plant and the pipeline that terminates at the contaminated site could pose serious environmental threats that could put the public’s safety and health at risk. It’s clear now that the projects cannot go forward.”
The public comment period on the Environmental Assessment of the proposed DTE Birdsboro pipeline whose sole function would be to deliver gas from the Texas Eastern pipeline to the power plant is slated to end on December 15th. Environmental advocates and concerned citizens have requested an extension of the comment period and the addition of hearings, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not responded to the request.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has yet to issue the water quality certifications for the power plant. At the public hearing in October, the lack of information about contamination extant on the site was raised by Berks Gas Truth and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
According to the filing, from 2004 to 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania DEP “conducted investigation and remediation activities pursuant to Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program.” According to the resulting Final Closure Report, “remedial activities” were done to address the following:
- 5 above ground storage tanks
- 7 underground storage tanks
- 77 capacitors
- 22 transformers
- 15 oil-filled switches
- 2 voltage regulators
- 550 sq. ft. of PCB contaminated concrete
- A mercury spill
- 13,980 feet of piping
- 6,024 feet of asbestos insulation
- 600 sq. ft. of asbestos debris
- 17,000 pounds of calcium carbide
- 4 open pits
The filing continues, “In October 2009 (after completion of the Army Corps clean up), Environmental Standards, Inc. (ESI) prepared a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment of the site for the Berks Redevelopment Authority. ESI found evidence of 12 Recognized Environmental Conditions (“RECs”) at the Site, and also noted the presence of asbestos materials (which are excluded from the definition of RECs under ASTM standard 1527-05).”
The contaminants listed do not include the canisters of chlorine gas on the site that were discovered last month by a worker who became ill from the fumes leaking from one of them. The court document does not provide a list of what the company’s analyses and surveys have found on the site.
“The fact that any work is being done on a project that has not received its final approval is outrageous. One worker has already suffered as a result of his exposure to chlorine gas. Federal and state regulators have an obligation to halt any further work immediately and reject these projects,” said Feridun.