Chemical testing in Gaysport will continue

By Kelly Cernetich

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Testing to confirm the presence of petroleum-related chemicals in Gaysport will continue.

Crews first discovered the possible contamination in mid-June while digging up a sewer line outside a Bedford Street home.

Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said DEP representatives were present at a Monday dig and collected groundwater and two soil samples, which will be used to independently verify the presence of petroleum substances.

Kasianowitz said results should come back in roughly two weeks.

She said DEP still is working to determine the contamination’s origin and extent. To help further the investigation, officials have sent a letter to Blair County Oil & Supply President Fred Marchi asking him to test his soil.

“If there is a link, then perhaps they would be a potentially responsible party,” she said, although Kasianowitz added that Marchi previously submitted to tightness testing of underground tanks, and no leaks were found.

Marchi said submitting to further testing would be “beating a dead horse” and that the leak is not coming from his property.

When the company’s convenience store and gas station, BCO Mart, was shuttered in 2010, Marchi said the underground gasoline tanks were removed by a certified specialist.

The next year, he paid Groundwater & Environmental Services Inc. to retrieve more than 40 samples to ensure there were no leaks.

“I did everything by the book. As a responsible citizen, I would not try to contaminate that or hide that,” Marchi said. “GES did 40 tests. We did it by the book. … I wanted it clean.”

Marchi said prior tests have cost him hundreds of dollars.

“Honestly, I’m not going to do this. I’ve complied with everything to this point, and I don’t think it’s going to satisfy them,” he said.

Marchi said he’s not surprised that he’s considered the most likely source of the pollution because of what Blair County Oil & Supply deals in and because of its proximity to the site, but Marchi said he believes the chemicals are coming through the sewer lines from somewhere else.

Borough Manager Mark Schroyer said after the dig was completed and necessarily samples were taken, borough workers hauled two truckloads of dirt to the public works garage, where it will be stored temporarily.

“It may have higher [concentrations of] particulates in it,” he said. “We may have to landfill the dirt.”

Kasianowitz said if Marchi doesn’t go through with testing, DEP officials will hold an internal meeting to decide the next step.

It’s unclear what will happen next, she said, but if a source cannot be found, the borough may be responsible for cleaning up the site.

“The most important thing is getting the soil out,” she said.