East Whiteland officials pull support for $1 million development grant

East Whiteland>>On July 13, the East Whiteland Township Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw previous support given for a state grant that would advance a partial remediation plan and residential development of the Bishop Tube site, a highly contaminated, 13 acre site located in the town. The new township letter seeks to assert that the township is now taking a neutral stance on a $1,000,000 grant being pursued from the industrial sites reuse program. The township originally wrote the State Department of Community and Economic Development on June 21, 2016 expressing support for the funding; but as the result of new and emerging information regarding contamination at the site, lack of a final remediation plan to address all site contamination, and strong community sentiments on the matter, the Supervisors voted unanimously to write a new letter to the state revising their stance. Residents have been urging the Township to take this step for many weeks.

Residents and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network are seeking to have the state advance only a full remediation plan, undertaken at the cost of responsible parties, with protection of the site as natural open space by the Township for the benefit of the community as the final outcome. Plans for how the site would be fully remediated and to what degree, with or without the proposed partial remediation and development project, are still unknown.

At the meeting, Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, applauded the continuing efforts and commitment by the community to this cause and also urged the board to reach out to county officials and urge them to join in efforts to oppose the state grant and instead advance only a full remediation solution.

“The residents of East Whiteland and communities living downstream have not been properly protected by the PA DEP,” said van Rossum, “it would add insult to injury to allow this site to be developed for a heavy residential use. DEP needs to prioritize full cleanup of the site and protection of the community, Little Valley Creek and the environment. Once this site is fully remediated and the community and environment protected from TCE contamination emanating from the site, they deserve to have the site protected as natural open space for their benefit and enjoyment.”

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Bishop Tube is a 13.7 acre site that was formerly used as a metal processing plant. Since the 1970’s the site has been abandoned and has not yet been remediated. Improper dumping of waste and use of chemicals during its previous operations has contaminated soils and groundwater with high levels of TCE (trichloroethylene), a probable human carcinogen.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is a nonprofit membership organization working throughout the 4 states of the Delaware River Watershed including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. DRN provides effective environmental advocacy, volunteer monitoring programs, stream restoration projects, public education, and legal enforcement of environmental protection laws.