After chemical fire, real-time water monitors to go in Conewago Creek

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 24, 2015 1:55 PM
boater 600x340 YDR.jpg

Photo by Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News

A boater on the Conewago Creek in Hellam Township, after the fire at Miller Chemical.

(Conewago Township) -- Real-time water monitors may soon be installed in a midstate creek after a June 8th chemical plant fire in Adams County, though state regulators say tap water is clean.

Miller Chemical and Fertilizer is paying for the cost of the cleanup at its fertilizer plant in Conewago Township, including removing contaminated soil and polluted water. The water is getting trucked to four different facilities to be treated and disposed.

The cleanup still remains in a critical stage - trying to prevent any additional runoff into the nearby Conewago Creek. 

Thousands of fish were killed in the days after the fire.

Earthern berms, large tanks, and pits and trenches are all in place in the event of another rain storm. A breach of the earthern berm last weekend raised some concerns, but John Repetz with the state Department of Environmental Protection says the runoff was diluted by the stormwater.

He says eventually the work will shift to the creek in York and Adams County.

But he doesn't know when real-time monitors might go in the waterway.

"No, not yet, there are a number of possibilities out there. They're still looking to see perhaps what types of contaminants to look for, trying to figure out what would give the best indication of a potential problem that's out there," says Repetz.

He adds: "If anything did get into the creek and could potentially cause a problem, it could alert the operators that there is something in the water, and to close down its intake before any of that contamination could actually get in and foul up its drinking water system."

Other work that remains at the site includes: taking care of partially burned materials, scraping up some of the contaminated soil and handling the debris from burned out portion of facility.

Repetz says DEP is supervising the cleanup, not actually doing any of the work. He says a DEP staff person is on site most days. 

Miller Chemical says it should have an update on the work later this week.

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