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Recent rains cause new point of acidic discharge at Interstate 99 work site

Recent heavy rains have caused yet another point of acidic discharge below Skytop; but according to state transportation officials, immediate action by crews diverted the pollution to a catch basin.
The problem was noted in the most recent update concerning the acid rock drainage activity in the I-99 construction zone that all but halted construction on the important highway.
The deadline is fast approaching for PENNDOT to offer state environmental officials a “permanent solution” for the ARD problems being experienced with Interstate-99 construction.
The problems were first noted last month when officials discovered a larger amount of acidic materials (Fool’s Gold) than expected. Marla Fannin, PENNDOT’s community relations coordinator, said Fool’s Gold in itself, doesn’t pose a threat to the local environment; however, when it’s exposed to oxygen then passed through water, an acid is formed that increases the pH in affected water.
Now, PENNDOT and groups associated with the project need to come up with a workable plan that will provide a permanent solution to the problem. DEP’s deadline is early May.
According to the report provided by PENNDOT and DEP, plenty of testing has already been completed on the project.
Surface water quality samples were collected in late March and early April. The water quality results, which indicated the treatment is effective, were received from the laboratory for samples collected on March 15.
PENNDOT also tested a total of seven residences in late March as part of the monthly sampling program. Additional residence will be sampled upon contact with property owners.
One sample from a privately-owned spring showed elevated level of aluminum and sodium concentrations as compared to the previous sampling event.
A second sample of this spring was collected on April 7 for verification.
Water Supply Inventory mailings have been mailed to 119 residents within 1/4 and 1/2 mile radius. As of Friday, 38 responses have been received.
Officials continue to install groundwater monitoring wells. In Skytop, two wells were installed upstream and three downstream, and two boreholes were also developed.
In Seibert, two wells were installed upstream and one well was installed downstream. Officials expect four more downstream wells will be installed. Also, two boreholes were completed within the fill area.
Locations of additional wells and boreholes have been identified. The Bifurification area will have three boreholes, one on top and two along the roadway, and three monitoring wells.
Enviroscan continues to survey fill and waste areas.
Information on the I-99 Acid Rock Drainage can be found on the web at www.dot.pa.state.us. Click on Regional Information, click on red number 2 and choose Information on I-99.