The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently began field activities as part of its environmental investigation at the former Erie Coke Inc. property at 925 E. Bay Drive in the City of Erie.

This phase of the investigation will assess the extent of contaminants in soils, groundwater, surface water, and sediments at the site.

“The investigation of this site is a big undertaking and one that will take time,” said DEP Northwest Regional Director Erin Wells. “The information gathered is critical to DEP, the community, and ultimately the reuse of the site.”

Since DEP announced in January that it would begin conducting a further environmental investigation at this site, several steps have been completed as part of the process authorized under the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA).

To date, DEP has finalized a scope of work for the project, assigned a DEP-approved contractor and finalized a work plan for the investigation. When Erie Coke shut down in December 2019, DEP successfully sought a court order to freeze $1 million of Erie Coke’s finances for use of removing waste from the site.

When those funds were exhausted, DEP requested U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involvement to address waste remaining in tanks, containers, and piping, which posed an immediate threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.

Since then, the EPA has removed and disposed of waste, demolished buildings, recycled appropriate scrap materials, and is actively mitigating risks associated with remaining tanks, containers, and piping posing the greatest threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.

The EPA expects removal actions at the former Erie Coke property to be completed in October.

Over the next few months, DEP contractors will conduct a boundary survey, clear and remove vegetation to access sample locations, perform soil borings, conduct a geophysical survey, and sample groundwater, surface water, soils and sediment.

DEP also created a website dedicated to providing information on the site and the investigation.