Material disqualified since it contained too much boron
By KENT JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
Analysts disqualified one batch since testing began on dredged material awaiting shipment from Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia to a reclamation site in Hazleton.
The sample drawn on Jan. 11 contained too much boron, a substance used as a cleanser and pesticide and for other purposes. Because of the findings, 1,000 cubic yards of dirt-like, dredged material can't come to Hazleton from the storage area at Fort Mifflin.
"We had one rejected ... dug out and put on the side at Fort Mifflin," Robert Dougherty, the city engineer for Hazleton, said. The high results for boron illustrate the sampling process followed by Hazleton Creek Properties LLC, which began importing dredged material last month to reclaim mineland while prepping a site for an amphitheater.
In two other tests taken since late November, samples containing substances in amounts that exceeded permitted levels were re-tested and approved for shipment through a procedure that the state and the private laboratory said is standard.
Hazleton Creek has approval to bring dredge as well as materials such as brick, block and stone from construction and demolition projects to Hazleton under terms of a general permit issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. ”
At Fort Mifflin along the Delaware River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stores material dredged from the river.”
Fort Mifflin Reclamation Associates, a company with the same address in Kingston as Hazleton Creek, secured a contract from the corps to remove 500,000 cubic yards of dredged material last fall.
The material comes from an area at Fort Mifflin called "Cell A."
In 2000, the corps stopped loading material in Cell A and conducted tests that showed the material meets the standards of the permit that Hazleton Creek follows.
Cell A is divided into grids of 1,000 cubic yards, and Hazleton Creek tests each 1,000 cubic yards of material for metals and a family of compounds called extractable organic halogens or EOX, which includes polychlorinated biphenyl's.
At every 10,000 cubic yards, Hazleton Creek tests a grab sample and a composite sample - drawn from the 1,000 cubic-yard samples - for dozens of chemicals listed in the permit.
A firm in West Hazleton, Hawk Mountain Labs, draws the samples by drilling as deep as 5 feet into the dredged material and analyzes the samples for Hazleton Creek.
Reports of the results go to the DEP's office in Wilkes Barre and to Dougherty at the City Engineer's Office before dredged material comes to Hazleton.
The reports contain a cover letter from a technical director at Hawk Mountain that summarizes the findings and pages showing the actual levels detected for various substances. The lineup of metals tested for every 1,000 cubic yards fits on one page, but there are enough substances tested for in the samples from 10,000 cubic yards to fill six pages.
Reports note the latitude and longitude of the area tested to the nearest one-thousandth of a minute so areas can be matched with sample results.
Most reports say all samples meet regulated fill levels.
In the sample drawn on Jan. 11, however, analysts found 42.43 parts per million of boron, whereas the permitted level is 6.7 ppm.
"This 1,000 cubic yard section must not be used," Ronald Andrea of Hawk Mountain Labs wrote in the report.
Boron can irritate the nose, throat and eyes when breathed and can reduce sperm count in men who breathe it over the long term, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says in a fact sheet.
Ingesting boron in large amounts can harm the stomach, intestines, liver, kidney and brain, the agency says.
Boron is used as pesticide and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permits fruit to contain 8 ppm of boron.
A sample taken on Dec. 4 found boron at a concentration of 8.47 ppm, but the area wasn't rejected.
Two duplicate tests were taken. Both found less than 2 ppm of boron, and the average results were within the permitted levels, the report says.
Likewise, a test on Dec. 21 found 27.77 ppm of selenium, a necessary nutrient that can cause dizziness, thinning hair and brittle nails in high levels.
The permit says material may contain up to 26 ppm of selenium. Results of two duplicate tests brought the average to 15.17 ppm.
Mark Carmon, spokesman for the DEP, said the department's chemists reviewed the samples for boron and selenium.
"The second analysis came from the same sample. They have no problem," Carmon said.
Mark McClellan of Evergreen Environmental, a consultant for Hazleton Creek, said tests sometimes yield false positives.
Andrea of Hawk Mountain Labs said false positives can come from several sources, but when numbers are close to a threshold, the lab takes two retests to verify results.
The permit doesn't require tests for extractable organic halogen or EOX, but Hazleton Creek volunteered to test for EOX as a way of screening for chemicals in that family that might be in smaller concentrations, which are harder to detect.
"Halogenated compounds include PCBs. When you look at PCBs, it's like looking in a microscope. The EOX is a much larger scale, like a magnifying glass," Andrea said.
A sample taken on Nov. 30 contained 70.52 ppb of EOX, and Hazleton Creek had decided to retest any samples when the concentration exceeded 50 ppb.
Two duplicate analyses found 12.18 ppb and less than 10 ppb.