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September 2021 – Scratch-n-Sniff

If only This Were a Scratch-n-Sniff…

An Environmental Standards project was given the 2021 WV Brownfield Environmental Impact Award in recognition of the impact and success of the remediation of the Upshur County Tar Pits site. From approximately 1908 to 1935, the Buckhannon Chemical Company operated on a small portion of the land that is now the Upshur County West Virginia Youth Camp. The company produced charcoal, wood alcohol, and calcium acetate using air-tight kilns or ovens. The Site was used for the disposal of pine tar, a byproduct of its operations. Imagine an intense, wet campfire odor that penetrated and clung to everything, and a black ooze that expanded in the sun like something out of a horror movie. If only this were a scratch-n-sniff. The project presented unique challenges due to a failed soil cover installed by US EPA in the 1980s, a location within a flood plain that restricted any form of elevation change, a location within a popular summer camp for youth in the region, and tons of tar. Contaminants were volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cresols, and phenols.

Lydia Work, Principal Chemist at Environmental Standards, was the project Licensed Remediation Specialist. It was completed within the budget of a US EPA Cleanup Grant using a combination of risk assessment, tar solidification, soil cover and a simple, straightforward Soil Management Plan that the Youth Camp Administrators could use. The site is now the camp’s archery range.

The project was personal for Lydia since Upshur County was her college home. During the remediation, one of her Chemistry Professors, Dr. Paul Richter, who lives in the area stopped by. They hadn’t seen each other in 30 years and enjoyed catching up.

Tabatha Perry of the Upshur County Commission was presented the award at the virtual-2021 WV Brownfields Conference on September 15, 2021. Tabatha was quoted as saying, “We couldn’t have done this project without Environmental Standards’ out of the box ideas.”

Lydia M. Work

Principal Chemist, LRS