By Peter Becker
PALMYRA TWP. (Pike) - Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District (LWWMD) has been asked by an environmental remediation company for funds to assist a property owner in Greene Township clean up an oil tank spill.
District Administrator Nick Spinelli reported at the March 20 board meeting that over 400 gallons, the entire contents of the two tanks, spilled onto the ground outside a home in Greentown. Spinelli did not have the name of the property owner. The tank is above ground, and the company needed to remove approximately 100 tons of soil in an effort to keep the oil from contaminating the ground water.
Approximately $7,000 has been spent already on the cleanup. The entire cost is estimated to be $30,000.
Sources of financial assistance have not been found. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won't assist unless there has been water contamination, Spinelli said. He was not aware of how the tanks failed.
The property is along Route 447, on a small tributary to Wallenpaupack Creek; contaminated water could eventually reach Lake Wallenpaupack as a result.
Spinelli recommended to the contractor to call Greene Township and Pike County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) for possible assistance. The PA DEP indicated their agency had no funds to help.
One hundred tons equates to five tri-axle truck loads. Much of the high cost is the proper disposal of the hazardous material.
Board member Richard Caridi (Pike County Commissioner) advised against setting a precedent by approving use of LWWMD funds, but said the District can offer advice on where to look.
Board member Tom Oakley (Paupack Township Supervisor) said that a similar spill of home heating oil occurred recently in Barrett Township in Monroe County. In that case, insurance was covering it. Someone had stolen the copper line connecting the tank to the house.
Oakley agreed that a precedent should not be set. Caridi recommended contacting Harry Forbes, former Pike County Commissioner, who now is the Director of the Governor's Northeast Office in Scranton, for advice on finding the property owner assistance.
The LWWMD board meets on the third Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the PPL Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center. The District office may be contacted at (570)226-3865.