Open house held for Superfund site

Steve Keenan/The Fayette TribuneSusie Worley-Jenkins, a longtime Minden resident, talks with Cathleen Kennedy, an EPA community involvement coordinator, Wednesday during an open house concerning the Minden Superfund site. In a follow-up email, Worley-Jenkins said she left the open house with still-unanswered questions. 

OAK HILL — Minden residents and others sought updates Wednesday from representatives of federal and state agencies during a community open house centered around the Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Area Superfund site.

The open house at Dr. Amjad's office was attended by representatives of agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

According to background details supplied by the EPA, the Superfund site includes Shaffer Equipment Company property, Arbuckle Creek sediments and other areas where site-related contamination may be located. The EPA said site soils and sediment were historically contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were used by Shaffer from 1970-84 to manufacture electrical substations for the local coal mining industry. The Minden site was one of seven added to the EPA's Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in May 2019. That designation will allow more federal funds to investigate the PCB level in Minden.

During the open house, an informational handout detailed a timeline for current on-site activities. This month, the EPA has been in the area to finalize plans for an excavation and cap repair near the Shaffer Equipment property. Based on previous investigations and community input, the current action features excavation of a 100-foot-by-40-foot tract adjacent to an area which was capped in 2002. That work also includes regrading a drainage ditch to the south of the cap, as well as placing additional support where minor surface erosion has occurred at the eastern end of the sheet pile wall.

Next month, the first phase of sampling for the remedial investigation will begin. Additional sampling may be required. Goals of the testing, according to the handout, include characterizing soil contamination, determining site-related contaminants, and better characterization of groundwater. The information gleaned will be used to determine if the site poses risks to human health and the environment.

A work crew of about six people will initially sample the following contaminants: PCBs, metals, pesticides, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics and dioxins/furans.

The remedial investigation will include sampling shallow and deep soil, drilling and sampling groundwater monitoring wells and conducting geophysical testing, sampling surface water and sediment along Arbuckle Creek, and collecting wipe samples at residential properties for PCBs.

Areas to be investigated include the former Shaffer Equipment property and adjoining areas, residential properties, Britt Bath House, Berwind Green Hill Mine Dump, Rocklick Road and Arbuckle Creek, wetlands and downstream areas.

The remedial investigation sampling is expected to wrap up sometime in December. Results are expected to the EPA for review in January 2020, and data analysis and evaluation will be ongoing during the winter.

A community update featuring the findings and the next steps is planned for next spring. 

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