The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released their “interim response” last week to an environmental investigation they have been performing in New Hanover Township and have scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. to review the results.
The meeting will take place in the auditorium of the Boyertown Junior High East School at 2020 Big Road, Gilbertsville (New Hanover Township).
The investigation included sampling private drinking water supply wells located along portions of Layfield, Hoffmansville, Colflesh and Erb roads in the township. The findings concluded that the sampling revealed levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exceeding the safe drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) along Layfield and Hoffmansville roads.
The DEP conducted an information session in April regarding the groundwater contamination in that area and according to a report issued at the time, they first learned of the onsite contamination at Good Oil, Layfield Road, New Hanover Township, during an aboveground storage tank closure in 2007.
Offsite groundwater contamination was first noted in June of 2011 by the Montgomery County Health Department when a sample taken from a residential well on Layfield Road showed high levels of VOCs.
Since receiving the reporting, the DEP has been working to ensure tanks at the Good Oil site are properly removed.
DEP is also monitoring onsite wells, and sampling area streams and offsite wells in the vicinity of the site, and providing bottled water to impacted residents.
At the April meeting, officials revealed that the source of the offsite groundwater contamination in the area was a mystery and that the event that caused the contamination is still to be determined. The two contaminants found in area wells were trichlorethene, or TCE, and vinyl chloride, or VC.
DEP officials reported that the two are not usually found together and called the findings “unique.” Both are an ingestion and inhalation hazard and can affect a person’s neurological and nervous system. Long term exposure could cause cancer.
At the time, five homes were found to have well water contamination above the safe drinking standards and six with trace amounts of toxins, but still meeting safe drinking standards. Residents with contamination were told to limit showers and “open a window or use a ventilation fan” in their bathrooms if possible to cut down inhaling the contaminants.
Earlier this year the DEP finished placing 12 monitoring wells on the Good Oil property and they continued to do water sampling on all affected areas.
According to the most recent report, in January of this year, the department sampled 12 shallow wells at 334 Layfield Road installed by Good Oil Company on their property. Site contaminants, at concentrations similar to those found in residential wells, were detected at levels exceeding the MCL in the samples collected.
To date a total of 42 residential, business and school properties have been sampled.
The October report proposes the installation of a public water line, and construction of laterals to connect homes to the public water supply and an environmental covenant or municipal ordinance.
Other possible alternatives are also suggested that include no action and environmental covenants; the installation of whole-house water treatment systems and environmental covenants; or the construction of a community water supply system with environmental covenants or municipal ordinance.
The DEP proposes the public water line as the appropriate response and lists it in the “interim” category because it is expected to cost less than $2 million and be completed in less than one year. It also reports that it “shall be funded by the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund.” The cost would include the cost of properly abandoning wells with site contaminants.
Anyone who would like to present formal oral comments at the Dec. 4 meeting may do so by calling DEP Community Relations Coordinator Lynda Rebarchak at (484)250-5820 to register.
Written comments may be submitted through the close of business on Jan. 18, 2013. Written comments should be sent to Colin Wade, Solid Waste Specialist, Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, 2 East Main St. Norristown, Pa. 19401.
For questions or additional information, contact Wade at (484)259-5722.