DEP Releases Third Round of Tests from Selinsgrove

WILLIAMSPORT – No imminent public health threats have been identified in the results of soil and water tests released today by the Department of Environmental Protection as part of an ongoing environmental assessment in Selinsgrove, Snyder County.

“During the course of this assessment, the Department of Environmental Protection tested for a range of chemical compounds in the air, soil, groundwater and surface water at locations in and around Susquehanna University, and at the off-campus housing site known as the Warehouse,” DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell said. “No apparent threats to public health have been identified. We are providing results of our environmental assessment to the Department of Health and remain available to conduct further testing if the need arises.”

DEP scientists tested for 68 volatile organic compounds and 99 semi-volatile organic compounds – common chemical compounds ranging from benign to dangerous – through a variety of sampling and collection methods.

Volatile compounds evaporate easily and can become air contaminants including gasoline constituents such as benzene and toluene, and solvents.

Semi-volatile compounds are heavier and don’t evaporate readily. They include pesticides, herbicides and heavier petroleum products found in diesel fuel.

No additional large-scale sampling is planned in Selinsgrove unless new information is presented that would warrant such action.

A summary of sample locations and results follows:

Susquehanna University – Ten surface soil samples were collected on March 15 from four athletic fields and from a location near the water tower. Test results for VOCs and metals were reported previously. No semi-volatile organic compounds were found in concentrations that exceeded levels established under Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act, known as Act 2 of 1995.
Weiser Run – Five monitoring points were established along Weiser Run between Orange and Water streets. Sediment, soil and water quality results were reported previously. Sampling for SVOCs found elevated levels of Benzo(a)pyrene which is a common combustion byproduct from vehicle exhaust and coal, oil and wood burning stoves and furnaces. All other semi-volatile organic compounds were below Act 2 standards.
Elevated levels of the herbicide metolachlor were found in the surface water sample taken closest to where it was found in a groundwater sample at the former Rhoads Mill monitoring wells.

Cemetery – Since the soil gas sampling method used initially was not sensitive to formaldehyde, a geoprobe rig was sent to the site on April 2 to install formaldehyde sampling points around an old cemetery adjacent to the intersection of David and Spruce streets. Soil vapor samples for formaldehyde were collected on April 3 by drawing air from the soil with a sampling pump through a sample tube with a resin that adsorbs the formaldehyde. Although formaldehyde and related compounds were detected in the samples, none of the compounds exceeded Act 2 standards.
DEP is sharing this data with the state Department of Health, which is conducting a cancer data analysis of previously enrolled students and alumni. The Department of Health continues to gather information from the community and to work with Susquehanna University to compare alumni information with the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and other state cancer registries to determine if there is an excess in cancer incidence or in the cancer types involved.

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