We were concerned from the outset of the project about how it might impact the surrounding neighborhood. Based upon its railroad experience GF experts believed there would be no significant impact. To ensure this will be the case and to address the communitys and TRRAACs concerns, GF conducted a study of the potential impact of noise, vibration and air quality, as well as an overall health-risk assessment. We instructed GF to dedicate specialty scientists for these disciplines and to conduct the studies in a very conservative manner. Based upon its experience and relevant governmental regulations, GFs scientists believe our approach to these studies is extremely conservative.
The results of the studies, and a summary page for each, are listed on our Web site, www.fandm.edu/railyard.xml.
The studies results indicate that based upon federal governmental regulations and guidelines the potential impact of the noise, vibration and air quality from this project is well below impact criteria and levels that would require mitigation steps.
Even though the noise studies indicate that no mitigation is necessary, the project partners have committed to installing a feature that would reduce existing and future noise along the rail tracks adjacent to the Colleges Brick Yard property. This feature will most likely be a raised earthen berm planted with evergreens, which is an effective noise-dampening device.
Regarding the question of light pollution from the new yard, there will be no tall directional lighting fixtures. Instead, standard municipal streetlights (cobra light fixtures mounted to wooden poles) will be installed along an access road and at several locations in the yard. Consequently, there will not be the light pollution as there might be from tall commercial or industrial light fixtures.
The Dillerville Yard Consolidation project was announced more than two years ago. TRRAAC was formed a little more than a year later. During this period, the project partners have been very responsive to TRRAACs questions and concerns. For instance:
1. We have answered in detail all of the voluminous inquiries submitted by TRRAAC and its consultants. For transparency purposes, the original letters and the responses can be found on the projects Web site: www.fandm.edu/railyard.xml. We requested TRRAAC publish these materials on their Web site as well.
2. Members of TRRAAC were invited to participate as municipal representatives in a February 13, 2008, focus group to receive an in-depth briefing on the project. We followed TRRAAC representatives suggestion not to hold the public meeting until the results of the noise, vibration and air-quality studies were complete, which in turn delayed the public meeting to mid-June.
3. We followed TRRAAC representatives request to work with PennDot to amend its standard public meeting format to incorporate a group question-and-answer session, which is not typically included.
4. On April 10, 2008, we offered to share equally the cost of a qualified independent engineer to review the proposed plans andresults of studies to determine if the design could be improved or if another alternate location would be better. The proposal was to have TRRAAC, Manheim, Lancaster and East Hempfield townships share the cost of this study with the project partners, and to have the project as the client to eliminate any of the funding parties from unduly influencing the engineers results. TRRAAC rejected our proposal, though it now claims that alternate sites have not received sufficient consideration.
5. On June 16, 2008, we invited TRRAAC leaders to meet with GF to discuss TRRAACs two alternate plans. GF reviewed how and why features of the two alternates were considered and rejected early in the design process and how other aspects fail to meet Norfolk Southerns operational needs. We provided specific reasons why these two alternate plans do not work.
Since this meeting, the project partners contacted Donnelly Printing and they reconfirmed their unwillingness to sell any of their land to make the existing yard larger. In addition, Norfolk Southern confirmed that they have reviewed TRRAACs two suggested locations and do not consider them viable alternatives to the current proposal.
6. At the June 19, 2008, public meeting, TRRAAC informed us it was going to retain an engineering firm to review GFs design and offer ideas for improvement. TRRAACs engineer attended the public meeting. We agreed to meet with TRRAAC when its study was complete to consider any ideas and suggestions. We also indicated that the results of the study would need to be received by late summer in order to have an opportunity to incorporate any acceptable suggestions into our projects design. We are not sure if this study was completed because TRRAAC has not contacted us about the report.
Correspondence regarding these offers are on the projects Web site www.fandm.edu/railyard.xml.
7. TRRAAC expressed concern about the noise, vibration and air-quality impacts of the project. We delayed the project by several months and incurred additional costs to have GFs specialty scientists conduct environmental studies into these topics. The results of these studies confirmed that any impact would be well below any federal governmental regulation that would require mitigation steps of any kind.
8. Without any laboratory testing of samples, TRRAAC claimed that asbestos-containing flooring material (ACM), supposedly buried in the former municipal dump, would be friable (airborne) and could become a health risk to the community. Samples of 12 different types of flooring material that we collected from the dump in April, 2008, showed that only two of the 12 samples were found to contain asbestos, and that in both ACM samples it was organically bound to the flooring material and consequently non-friable. To date, except for anecdotal claims by TRRAAC, there is no evidence of the existence of friable ACM in the former dump site.
9. TRRAAC claimed that health risks would be created from removing the material in the dump. In response, we instructed ARM Group to include in the Act 2 remediation plan an extensive section that is the basis of the Health and Safety Plan, which will be used in performing the removal work. This level of health and safety procedural detail is typically not included in an Act 2 application (clean-up plan) but was supplied to show our commitment to full disclosure and openness with respect to the projects details. DEP approved the projects Act 2 cleanup plan because it concluded that the materials at the site can be removed safely and without harm to the community.
10. The project partners met with TRRAAC representatives earlier this month to listen to their concerns, which had been explained in prior settings and correspondence. The partners responded again to their main concerns.