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GASP Lauds DEP Decision To Conduct Hazardous Cleanup Program Investigation at Erie Coke, Inc. Property

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program will begin conducting further environmental investigation at the former Erie Coke, Inc. property. 

This investigation is necessary to identify the nature and extent of hazardous substances in soils, sediment, and water at the property in anticipation of its cleanup and reuse. In addition, the investigation will help determine the sources of contamination and the extent of risk to the public health, safety, or welfare, or the environment, DEP said in a press release Monday.

The Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) provides DEP with the funding and authority to conduct cleanup actions at sites where hazardous substances have been released. 

HSCA allows the DEP to investigate or address contamination in soil, surface water, sediment, and subsurface groundwater. HSCA also provides DEP with enforcement authority to force the persons who are responsible for releases of hazardous substances to conduct cleanup actions or to repay public funds spent on a DEP-funded cleanup action.

“DEP is pursuing this site investigation to help identify potential contamination and harmful threats to human health and the environment,” said DEP Northwest Regional Director Erin Wells. “This investigation will provide a solid foundation to guide remediation and future redevelopment at the site.”

With this announcement, DEP has begun the process of engaging DEP-approved contractors to begin the investigation. This process includes:

  • preparing a scope of work
  • meeting with the assigned contractor on-site
  • then having the contractor prepare a work plan and cost estimate for the DEP’s review and approval prior to any investigation activities

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which began operations on-site in September 2020, has removed and disposed of wastes, demolished buildings, recycled appropriate scrap materials, and is actively mitigating risks associated with remaining tanks, containers, and piping posing the greatest threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.  

EPA’s removal actions at the Erie Coke, Inc. property are to be completed this summer. 

GASP, which worked closely with community group Hold Erie Coke Accountable to inform the Erie community about air quality issues in general, as well as Erie Coke’s history of environmental violations, lauded the announcement.

“Erie Coke left a huge mess for the public to clean up,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “We hope DEP uses its authority to ensure the public doesn’t bear the financial burden for Erie Coke’s dereliction.”

For the DEP’s latest updates throughout the investigation, please click here. To read more about GASP’s work in Erie, click here

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Group Against Smog and Pollution