KANJORSKI SENDS LETTER TO ATSDR REQUESTING ASSESSMENT OF HAZLETON CREEK PROPERTIES PERMIT APPLICATION

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) sent a letter to Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Director Christopher Portier, Ph.D. requesting an assessment of Hazleton Creek Properties’ most recent application for a permit to use flue gas desulfurization material as fill at a former mine pit in Hazleton.  ATSDR is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold an informational meeting on August 31 on the use of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum in the Hazleton project.  The new permit would add FGD gypsum to the experimental mixture of coal ash, river dredge, and construction demolition material for use at the site.  On November 23, 2009, Congressman Kanjorski sent a letter to the DEP Secretary John Hanger requesting that DEP reject Hazleton Creek Properties’ previous permit application because it was experimental and potentially harmful to the community.

“The use of coal ash and construction demolition materials is experimental, and now Hazleton Creek Properties is trying to add another potentially harmful material to the site in Hazleton,” said Congressman Kanjorski.  “These irresponsible actions could greatly impact the lives of residents and workers at the site.  I deeply understand that many workers rely on this project for jobs, but we must first address the potential health issues that the material could cause before moving forward.  We must look into the long term effects on the region.  Therefore, I asked for an assessment of Hazleton Creek Properties’ permit application as I want to ensure that it is thoroughly scrutinized.  Our residents deserve the most thorough vetting, particularly on a project that is bringing experimental and potentially dangerous material to Northeastern Pennsylvania.”

The text of Congressman Kanjorski’s letter to Director Portier from August 30 follows:

Dear Dr. Portier:

The purpose of this letter is to request that the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) review the application submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection by Hazleton Creek Properties, LLC for a permit to use flue gas desulfurization material at a former mine pit in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  I appreciate your attention to this matter.

As you may know, Hazleton Creek Properties has applied to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a permit to allow the company to use flue gas desulfurization material, also known as synthetic gypsum, as fill for a former mine pit in Hazleton.  This new permit is in addition to three prior permits issued by DEP to allow Hazleton Creek Properties to accept river dredge, fly ash and construction demolition materials at the site.

The third permit for the use of construction demolition materials at the site was issued by DEP in March 2010.  I was extremely concerned about this permit because it allows Hazleton Creek Properties to use construction materials, including gypsum board, as fill at the site.  Previously, a permit to use construction materials at a former mine site had never been issued in Pennsylvania and I was very concerned about the safety of disposing of these types of materials at the site.  As a result, I contacted DEP with my concerns about this application.  It is my understanding that the ATSDR Region III also provided informal comments regarding the application and in particular raised concerns about the disposal of gypsum board at the site.

In June 2010, Hazleton Creek Properties again applied to DEP for a permit, this time to use flue gas desulfurization material at the site.  It is my understanding that flue gas desulfurization material is also known as synthetic gypsum.  This is the same material used to make gypsum board and which ATSDR had previously raised concerns about.  As a result, I respectfully request that ATSDR review the application submitted to DEP by Hazleton Creek Properties and provide me with as assessment as soon as possible.

In closing, thank you for your attention to this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Paul E. Kanjorski

Member of Congress

August 30th, 2010 | Posted in Front Page Stories | No Comments