Borough officials awaiting agreements for project construction
DEP-mandated test wells for a gasoline additive chemical, MTBE, are ready to go in East Greenville once Hafer Environmental, a Reading environmental services company, prepares the agreements for construction of the project.
Christopher M. Kern, the president of the company, appeared before East Greenville borough council Monday night to explain what his company will do to determine the extent of underground contamination in the area near the former Mohr’s gas station.
According to East Greenville Borough Manager Jim Frye, the contamination stemmed from a gasoline spill at the location in April 2005. The test wells are part of an ongoing investigation into that spill to ascertain if the chemicals are dissipating from the site.
Hafer will first drill shallow wells 50 to 70 feet apart, and then wells farther from the location of the former underground gas tanks in order to determine how far contamination greater than 200 parts per million (ppm), the level that has been found at the tanks.
Twenty ppm is the standard acceptable level.
The locations of those wells have not yet been disclosed.
Kern said DEP will not do anything about the contamination, as East Greenville has no water wells in the borough. All borough households are hooked up to public water from the plant on Water Street in Upper Hanover. Kem estimated that the contamination will not go far under the borough’s soil.
The wells will be shallow, and in all likelihood will be pumped dry after extracting a few barrels of water. DEP will drill other wells at a later date to determine the potential movement of the MTBE in the Fourth and Main streets area, Kem said.
The test wells will be approximately eight inches in diameter, and Hafer would construct manholes around the wells and protect them from infiltration by using concrete. The manholes will be flush with any alley road surface. After DEP is finished with its monitoring, DEP will fill the wells with “grout,” a combination of bentonite and concrete.
Kem said the previous owner, Ken Mohr, is responsible for the cost of the wells and the monitoring of them, but DEP has an insurance fund to compensate Mohr. Kem estimated the cost of the drilling and monitoring of the wells to be somewhere around $2,000 to $3,000.
The federal government required the MTBE additive be put in gasoline near densely populated areas.
MTBE was an additive intended to “oxegenate” gasoline to limit tailpipe emissions. Kem said the EPA found that MTBE mixes with groundwater and is hard to clean up.
Solicitor Barry Tomlinson told the council he’d like Hafer to prepare construction-related agreements and to send the agreements to his office for review and editing. That way, the borough will wind up paying less for the legal documents.
In other borough business Monday night, council decided not to pursue the levying of taxes on Perkiomen School. Tomlinson said there are numerous other cases where municipalities have failed to levy property taxes on educational institutions which purchase houses for student and faculty housing.
Tomlinson cited the case of Washington and Jefferson College, in Washington County, PA.
Perkiomen hopes to purchase as many houses on State and Third Streets as it can. The school already owns houses on State and Third streets in East Greenville as well as other houses near the school in Pennsburg. Tomlinson said it’s unlikely that courts would negate the institutional exception for Perkiomen’s houses.
The council also delayed action on the ordinance that will govern the municipal parking lot.
“It’s waited seven years,” remarked Council President Joe Pierson. “I guess it can wait another month while the council reads the ordinance and makes comments on it. Advertising of the ordinance will have to wait until August.
Council also approved the release of $100,687.77 in escrow funds related to the City Ice development.
“We can handle the draw-down of City Ice’s 30,000 gallons per month of water,” said Borough Manager Jim Frye. “It’s good for them, and it’s good for us.”