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Soil removal set at depot

June 21, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Next week the Army will begin removing 25,000 tons of contaminated soil from an area of Letterkenny Army Depot that eventually will be transferred to the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority.

The three-acre area known as the Outside Vehicle Storage Area has been contaminated by petroleum byproducts, according to Bryan Hoke, the depot's Base Realignment and Closure environmental coordinator. The project is costing the Army about $3 million, he told the depot Advisory Board, a group made up of Army representatives, federal and state environmental agencies, local governments and the public members.

Hoke said Wednesday the removal will be done by IT Inc., a Monroeville, Pa., company. Although contaminated, the soil is not considered hazardous and will be taken to Clean Rock Inc., a Hagerstown, Md., company that will use the shale to make asphalt.

The area will be excavated from 1to 12 feet deep and back-filled with clean shale, Hoke said. During the next several weeks trucks will haul away about 2,000 loads of shale.

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Two smaller soil removal projects are planned for later this year, Hoke said.

The Outside Vehicle Storage Area is part of the 1,500 acres of depot property to be transferred to the authority for development as the Cumberland Valley Business Park. The area is also part of a Keystone Opportunity Zone, or KOZ, at the depot .

Any business locating within a designated KOZ can avoid paying most state and local taxes until 2011, under the 1998 state law.

Since the depot was declared a Super Fund site by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1980s, about $80 million has been spent cleaning up soil and groundwater contamination, much of it from industrial solvents used to clean engines, transmissions and other equipment, Hoke said.

The cost of cleaning up the area to be turned over to the development authority is estimated at $11 million, including the soil removal project.

Hoke said there was promising news about efforts to clean up groundwater contamination that polluted wells and springs outside the depot. A bioremediation pilot project begun last year has significantly lowered the levels of volatile organic compounds in the water.

The project injects sodium lactate into the ground outside Building 37, where engines and transmissions were once overhauled, Hoke said.

He said the project is "relatively cheap," costing $170,000 so far. He expects the cleanup to take another two or three years.

The Army has already transferred more than 200 acres to the authority. Hoke said a "limited depth" transfer of about 300 more acres could be completed by the end of the year.

That would give the authority title to the land to a depth of about eight or 10 feet, Hoke said. Companies building on those sites could dig foundations only to that depth because of the contamination.

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