The commonwealth is getting ready to retake the lead at the former Erie Coke property.

The demolition site and cleanup have been handled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2020.

We are now learning what will happen when the feds are done.

It’s the next step in the job of figuring out what lies beneath the remains of Erie Coke.

The State Department of Environmental Protection announcing that it will begin an investigation as part of the hazardous sites cleanup program.

“We feel this investigation is needed just to identify the nature and extent of hazardous substances in the soil, sediment, and water on the property in anticipation of it’s cleanup and eventual reuse,” said Tom Decker, Department Spokesman for PA Department of Environmental Protection.

The EPA’s demolition and cleanup work above ground is expected to be finished this summer.

Then a DEP approved contractor begins the testing and sampling below ground.

For the group known as “Hold Erie Coke Accountable,” this is good news.

“We’re talking about danger to both public health and the environment. So it definitely has to stay on the radar,” said Sr Pat Lupo, Hold Erie Coke Accountable.

“It’s very satisfying to see DEP’s resolve to do the necessary testing and then manage the cleanup,” said Mike Campbell, Hold Erie Coke Accountable.

Although pleased to see the DEP take this next step, Hold Erie Coke Accountable would like to see more long term site work, especially ground water testing, than they’ve been led to believe will happen.

They want three to five rounds of sampling. Right now the DEP says that there will be two.

As for a cleanup timetable, that will be determined by what’s found beneath the surface.

“The DEP does not determine who will take over the site, but we’ll be working with whoever that may be to talk about the liabilities that come with the site and help them move past the cleanup,” said Decker.

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Decker says that the DEP’s Erie Coke website is being redeveloped to allow the public to track the cleanup effort.