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DER EXTENDS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ON CLEANUP PLAN FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE PRIORITY SITE IN CRAWFORD COUNTY

 HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (DER) today announced that the public comment period on the proposed hazardous sites cleanup plan for the Avtex Fibers facility in Vernon Township, Crawford County, will be extended for 30 days during January and February.
 DER extended the time period in which the public can comment on the plan at the request of several local government officials and FMC Corp., a former owner of the facility.
 "We agreed to accept further public comment on our cleanup plan, which would rid the site of toxic contamination," DER Secretary Arthur A. Davis said. "The plan reflects the state's ongoing commitment to cleaning up, rather than simply containing, toxic wastes."
 Under DER's plan, organic solvents would be used to extract contaminants -- many of them cancer-causing chemicals -- from the soil, sediment and debris. The contaminants then would be transported to an off-site incineration facility.
 The cleanup is estimated to cost $27.2 million.
 "DER's proposed cleanup removes and destroys the contaminants once and for all, so that 30 additional acres of the site will be available for future industrial and recreational development," Davis said. "More important, our plan protects the public health and natural resources of the area now and for future generations."
 Davis said DER's cleanup plan differs from a less comprehensive and less costly cleanup plan proposed by FMC which would contain some of the site contaminants within the facility by covering them with asphalt paving, fencing off other contaminated areas and treating some of the contaminants to render them non-hazardous.
 DER announced its cleanup plan proposal last January. A public hearing was held in March, and public comments were taken until the end of April.
 Under the extended comment period, public comments on the proposed Avtex cleanup plan will be accepted from Jan. 9 through Feb. 9, 1993. They should be directed to the Department of Environmental Resources, Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program, RR 2, Box 614, Mosiertown Road, Meadville, PA 16335-8311.
 Once public comments are incorporated into the administrative record, DER will respond to the comments and issue its cleanup decision.
 If the responsible parties do not clean up the site, DER will competitively bid the cleanup project, and the costs will be recovered from the responsible parties. Actual cleanup is expected to begin in 1994.
 The 170-acre site, used for the manufacture of synthetic fibers, was once owned by American Viscose Co. and later by FMC Corp. Avtex Fibers- Meadville purchased the facility in 1976 and operated it until 1986. Part of the property has been purchased by the Crawford County Redevelopment Authority.
 The site consists of a number of manufacturing buildings, production and monitoring wells, a landfill area, waste water storage lagoons and disposal and burn areas. Numerous production wastes were generated and burned, discharged or disposed of on site.
 DER tests determined that soil, sediment and ground and surface water contain hazardous substances, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic and other heavy metals.
 The Avtex property is one of 11 sites currently on Pennsylvania's toxic waste priority list, which identifies sites requiring major, long- term cleanups.
 Hazardous sites are added to the priority list based on potential human health and environmental risks. Each site undergoes extensive testing to determine the extent of contamination and develop a long-term cleanup plan.
 The Hazardous Sites Cleanup law enables Pennsylvania to order responsible parties to clean up sites or to use state funds and then seek reimbursement from the polluters.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/18/92
 /CONTACT: Pam DiSalvo, 717-787-1323, or Steve Curcio, 814-673-6945, both of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources/


CO: Department of Environmental Resources ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

CC -- PH018 -- 8194 12/18/92 12:03 EST
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Date:Dec 18, 1992
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