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Friday, October 23, 2009

DEP to Conduct Additional Work Near Former Karnish Instruments Plant in Lock Haven

Agency Contractor to Begin Determining Extent of Radiological Contamination Monday

Williamsport – The Department of Environmental Protection will conduct additional work near the former Karnish Instruments plant on Third Avenue in Lock Haven, Clinton County, beginning Monday.

A DEP contractor, URS Corp., will drill soil borings on properties near the plant to determine the extent of radiological contamination near the site, according to DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell. Under current use, the radiation levels present are not an immediate threat to the properties’ occupants.

Elevated radiation levels were discovered in the area during previous survey work in May.

URS Corp. will examine an area west of the site used for rental storage units, soil beneath the concrete floor within a small area of the Lock Haven Court apartments located south of the site, and soil beneath the pavement along Third Avenue east of the site.

Once the new data is collected, DEP will evaluate what additional remedial options are necessary to prevent unacceptable human exposure in the future.

The Karnish Instruments site was investigated by DEP’s Bureau of Radiation Protection in 2007 when elevated radiation levels were discovered within the building and on the grounds of the Ron’s Rental building.

Funds provided by the state’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act were used to remediate the site by demolishing Ron’s Rental and disposing of 23,400 cubic feet of building debris and 56,700 cubic feet of soil as low-level radioactive waste. The work was finished in February.

Subsequent walkover radiation surveys completed in May revealed additional contamination on several adjacent properties.

Karnish Instruments manufactured and repaired aircraft gauges from the mid-1950s until the 1970s without a radioactive materials license. Radioactive radium paint was used on gauge dials for illumination.

Poor work practices at the time resulted in radioactive contamination in the interior building surfaces, and in soil beneath and around the property.

For more information, call 570-327-3659 or visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Radiation protection.

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