Berks Gas Truth’s Statement on DEP’s Approval of Water Quality Permit for DTE Pipeline


Contact:         Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726

Berks Gas Truth’s Statement on DEP’s Approval of Water Quality Permit for DTE Pipeline

Kutztown, PA –

Statement by Berks Gas Truth founder Karen Feridun

According to a submission to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s docket filed today by DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC for its proposed pipeline that would supply natural gas to the proposed Birdsboro power plant, the PA Department of Environmental Protection approved federal and state water quality permits for the project yesterday.

The approvals come just over a month after environmental organizations met with representatives of the DEP to question them about the state of the heavily contaminated site and just days after the groups received a written response to questions the representatives in the meeting were unprepared to answer.

Berks Gas Truth and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network questioned DEP Southcentral Regional Office Director Joseph Adams, Acting Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs Ramez Ziadah, DEP Director of Legislative Affairs Sarah Clarke, and Troy Conrad, Acting Director, Bureau of Environmental Cleanup & Brownfields on January 26th on a conference call organized by Senator Judy Schwank’s office. The agency’s representatives were not prepared to address specific questions raised by the environmental groups.

On February 1, the organizations submitted follow-up questions to the DEP via Senator Schwank’s office in an attempt to get answers to the many questions that remained after the call. The agency responded on February 23rd, five days before issuing the permits.

Among the questions the agency’s representatives were unable to answer were several pertaining to the demolition of the stacks on the former Armorcast site in December 2016. Responding to the follow-up written request, DEP provided three pages of a thirty-one page report that was prepared by International Asbestos Testing Laboratories (iATL) in May 2016. It appears that the agency only requested the information to respond to our request and still is not itself in possession of the full report.

The three pages provided did not answer the following questions, among many others:

  • How were the samples collected? Was the person who collected the sample properly trained to collect them per federal requirements?
  • What methods were used to collect the samples? Were samples collected by coring through the surface materials into the brick?
  • What was the size/weight of the samples collected?
  • Were sample locations sprayed with water sufficient to have penetrated the brick before samples were collected?
  • Were samples kept wet during the sampling process?
  • Were material was placed in sample containers, and then sealed and labeled? Were the seals present and intact upon receipt at the lab. Does the report detail the full chain of custody?

It is alarming to think that neither the PA DEP nor the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission took into account in their respective application reviews the “significant remaining contamination” Birdsboro Power LLC referred to in the lawsuit it filed against the federal government on November 21st for the costs of cleaning up the site.

Berks Gas Truth has renewed its original request of Senator Schwank’s office to organize a meeting with Governor Tom Wolf. If the regulators won’t do their jobs of protecting the public, then it is the Governor’s responsibility to direct the agency to revoke the permits until a proper review of the project is done that includes informing the public of the full list of contaminants extant on the site and providing opportunities to comment armed with that knowledge.