Subject: Scranton project closure approach
Date: 07/02/14 03:22:09 PM
From: "LaRegina, James" <[email protected]>
To: "[email protected]" <[email protected]>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]>, "[email protected]" <[email protected]>
Cc: "Nachlas, Paul" <[email protected]>
I apologize for the informal, lengthy email rather than a formal proposal but
since some questions remain to be answered I wanted to give you some idea
of next steps and approximate costs for the Scranton site before I leave for
vacation today. The work is governed by PA’s Land Recycling Program known
as Act 2.
Act 2 Program Background
Successful completion of the administrative and technical requirements will
result in a release of environmental liability from DEP. DEP does not enforce
the program; it is voluntary. The lending and legal communities “enforce” it
as a requirement for transactions.
Three potential cleanup standards can be selected from to obtain a release of
liability. All start with soil, water and vapor data. At this site, existing data
show that the dry cleaning solvent PCE is in the soil and groundwater (but not
soil vapor) at concentrations that exceed cleanup standards for future
residential and nonresidential land use.
The cleanup standards are:
The Background Standard – Applicable when contamination from an offsite
location is migrating onto the site. I do not believe this is happening at this
site. Upgradient well MW-2 (contaminated) monitors groundwater migrating
onto the site, and downgradient wells MW-1, MW-3, and MW-4 (all clean)
monitor it leaving the site. The soil in the area of the downgradient wells is
contaminated. The area upgradient of MW-2 has been a church since the late
1800s. I believe the PCE in MW-2 is not background but the result of historical
onsite use and migration via unconventional groundwater flow in the
abandoned deep mine pool beneath the site.
The Statewide Health Standard – Applicable when soil excavation and
groundwater treatment produce site conditions that do exceed numerical
cleanup standards that are protective of human health. This standard would
be costly for this site, especially treating the mine pool to drinking water
The Site Specific Standard – Applicable following the site study where it can
be demonstrated that contamination on and offsite does not come in contact
with human and ecological receptors at concentrations that produce
unacceptable risk. This has been the proposed Act 2 standard at the site in
order to use future site development to “cap” the soil and reliance on city
water to prevent someone from drinking the mine pool water.
The Findings to Date
A Remedial Investigation Report (RIR) and Cleanup Plan (CP) submitted in
October 201 is the subject of DEP’s June 20, 2014 comment review letter. The
RIR showed that:
PCE impacted soil in the southeastern corner of the site lends itself to
capping. DEP is requesting additional soil sampling in two areas to more fully
define the limits of impact to ensure the cap is comprehensive.
The non-potable mine pool is impacted (MW-2) and the area is served by city
water. DEP does not disagree but is looking for sampling at the mine pool
overflow to assess impact if any to the Lackawanna River. They also suggest
that MW-2 may be impacted by a background condition or an undefined
The PCE in the soil and mine pool does not produce an unacceptable risk of
vapor intrusion to occupied buildings. DEP has not asked for any additional
work in this regard but it could be required if new sample data is substantially
different from current data.
Consistent with prior DEP discussions and emails, site capping via
development is an acceptable remedy, but a firm implementation schedule is
required in order for DEP to approve the CP. However, the RIR needs to be
approved first and there are four DEP comments to be addressed that require
additional sampling and a revised RIR submittal. A DEP-approved RIR will
produce a letter that should be sufficient for a future buyer to understand the
site risks and DEP’s recognition of proposed future capping via development.
Addressing DEP Comments
1. Additional soil sampling was requested to delineate the PCE-impacted soil in
the southeastern site corner. This will require soil sample collection adjacent
to the site in the alley next to the courthouse. Samples would be collected at
various depths via a GeoProbe (pickup truck mounted hydraulic
punch). Buried utilities in the area would need to be located. Coordination
with courthouse security will be required.
2. Additional investigation is suggested to determine if another source, perhaps
offsite and upgradient (background) is the source of PCE in upgradient well
MW-2. To best address this will require discussion with DEP to restate our
position. We previously recognized this upgradient anomaly and did limited
sampling on church property and in the open basement (now backfilled). We
found no PCE in the soil or in the soil vapor (suggesting no proximity to a soil
source). If there is a background source offsite, I would expect to see a more
widespread PCE groundwater plume that would impact the 3 clean wells that
are only 60 feet downgradient of contaminated well MW-2. Again, I believe
MW-2 is an anomaly resulting from the unconventional mine pool groundwater
flow system. Regardless of how groundwater moves at the site, we know that
it ultimately discharges to the mine pool. Should DEP insist on new data, we
would propose soil gas sampling or a background well if needed.
3. Mine pool overflow sampling. In earlier email dialogue, DEP proposed
sampling the Old Forge Borehole to measure site-related impact on the mine
pool. The comment letter states that sampling should be done after the cap
is in place. Discussion with DEP will be the best way to resolve this. Consider
that the Old Forge Borehole mine pool discharge into the Lackawanna River is
an average of 65,000,000 gals/day. PA’s average precipitation is 3.5 feet per
year. The volume of water added to the mine pool from precipitation that falls
onto the site is about 700 gals/day. I would not expect site-related PCE to be
detected in the borehole discharge. Conversely, if it is detected, it could be
from some other source. Whether it is present or not, having a cap (site
development) in place will show that none can leave the site. Should DEP
insist on data now, then two samples would be collected from the borehole.
4. Groundwater sampling. DEP requested 8 consecutive quarters of groundwater
data from the onsite wells. That is a requirement for attainment of the
Statewide Health Standard. Some number of sampling quarters from 2 to 8
is typical for characterization under the Site Specific Standard. In discussions
with DEP, HRG would propose two quarters of data to support the capping
As a starting point, I would suggest a meeting with DEP to go over the data
and obtain their concurrence with the approach to this project. Then
implement the field work and if nothing has changed significantly, submit a
revised Remedial Investigation Report for DEP review and approval.
The best-case scenario would be to do field work in July and August and collect
two quarters of groundwater data by November and submit the RIR report in
December. DEP then has up to 90- days to review it. If 4 quarters of data
are acceptable then the RIR would be submitted June 2015 or June 2016 if
eight quarters are needed. After the RIR is approved, there are two
administrative options under the Site Specific Standard to obtain liability
Once a plan to develop/cap the site is known, submit an Act 2 Cleanup Plan
for approval. Implement the Cleanup Plan then submit an Act 2 Final Report
and record an environmental covenant that shows the site has been capped.
Following development/capping submit an Act 2 Final Report and record an
environmental covenant that shows the site has been capped. I believe
enough has been talked about capping the site so far that DEP would not find
this unexpected.
Buyer Seller Agreement (BSA)
This option can be used to facilitate a sale if a Buyer is found before or after
the RIR is approved. It provides the Buyer with liability protection at the time
they take ownership of the site. At this point, the program is no longer
voluntary and DEP has enforcement power to see that the remediation is
completed. The terms regarding whether the Buyer or Seller completes the
remediation and DEP reporting is typically addressed in the purchase and sale
agreement. Presumably, a Buyer is interested in the site with the plan for or
intention to develop it and thus has control of the remedy, its schedule and
its cost. The Buyer can submit either the Cleanup Plan before development
or the Final Report and covenant after development. Typically, the Buyer will
look for a reduction in the sales price to offset the cost of the DEP
reporting. Alternatively, the Buyer may request that the Seller escrow monies
to cover the cost of the Seller completing the DEP reporting after the site is
developed. Both a Cleanup Plan ( we are going to cap the site and here are
site drawings and a construction schedule) and the Final Report/Covenant (we
did the development per the plan and here are pictures. We also had our
attorney review HRG’s draft covenant for submittal and recordation) are less
than $5,000 each.
Preliminary Cost Range
The cost to address DEP comments and submit a Revised RIR will be
dependent on initial discussions with DEP to obtain their concurrence with the
approach outlined above.
Preliminary Estimated
Proposed Task
Cost Range
DEP concurrence meeting and preparation
$2,000 - $3,000
Soil delineation sampling, utility clearance and coordination with
$5,000 - $7,000
Scranton and Federal Courthouse Security
Prove/Disprove upgradient source
Soil gas sampling
$1,000 - $1,800
Groundwater well or soil sampling
$7,000 - $10,000
Mine Pool Sampling
$ 500 - $1,000
Quarterly Groundwater Sampling
2 quarters
8 quarters
RIR Report
DEP/Public notice fees
Preliminary Total (bold tasks only)
$7,000 - $8,000
$28,000 - $32,000
$7,000 - $8,500
$23,500 - $30,300
Site development is still a viable remedy and there is an option for DEP
signoff if a buyer is found before the project is complete. I return to the
office on the 14th and will only have intermittent access to email while I am
gone. You can try my cell below or contact Paul Nachlas PG at my office
who is familiar with the Act 2 Program and some of the history of this
Jim LaRegina, P.G.
Senior Project Manager
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc.
369 East Park Drive, Harrisburg, PA 17111
717.564.1121 [phone]
717.571.4458 [cell]
717.564.1158 [fax]
[email protected]
Member of the PA Council of Professional Geologists