Text and images © 2006 John B. Blackford. Do not reproduce without express written permission. All rights reserved.
Residents Challenge Pollution of Rapp Creek

by John Blackford      

Over the years, Nockamixon Township has seen its share of polluters, and one of the worst was Revere Chemical, which dumped waste into Rapp Creek, now a designated “exceptional value” stream and one of the most beautiful areas in the township. The Revere site has been cleaned up, and last month, the area was named Rapp Creek Park by the township supervisors.

So things are great along the creek, right? Well, not exactly. Residents on the waterway have seen discharges from another facility, Hanson quarry. In recent months, Michael Moss, who lives on 90 acres along Rapp Creek and Tabor Road, has seen a greenish discharge coming from the quarry into the creek.  His neighbor on the creek and Tabor Road, Jim Diamond, as seen the same thing.

Diamond is no stranger to fighting pollution, having challenged runoff from Revere Chemical in the 1960s and again last year heldping to stop refuse from washing out of Bikel Landfill, above his home. But this time, Moss took the lead and got the Pennsylvania DEP and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on the case.

They found particles in effluent from the quarry far higher than allowed, and in August, the Pa. DEP fined the Hanson $5,400.

The day the quarry was first found in violaion, August 3, particles in concentration of 480 parts per million were recorded at the discharge point and 310 ppm 100 feet downstream. The DEP limits discharge to 90 ppm maximum. Above the quarry, levels were less than 2 ppm, said Waterways Conservation Officer Robert Dunbar.

Moss also said he’d also seen a milky white substance in the stream, which township environmental advisory board member Stephen Donovan identified as ground-up particulate matter floating in the water. With recent rainfall, this discharge was less in evidence, though Donovan said there’s still a whitish material coating parts of the stream bed. It would take a roaring flood to scour that out, he said.

To help move things toward a solution, Moss organized a meeting on his property on August 31 that was atteded by Nockamixon Township officials, representatives from Pa. DEP and the Pa. Fish and Boat Commission, several reporters, residents in the area, and a representative from the Hanson quarry.

Donovan encouraged the quarry to install a turbidity meter near the quarry discharge point to spot any problems immediately. But DEP supervisor Colleen Stutzman said such a device could not be mandated. The quarry representative said the company wanted to cooperate, and while he couldn’t  make promises, would pass on the request about the meter.

While the problem has yet to be fully resolved, residents demonstrated the power of getting involved. Jim Diamond gave emotional thanks to those assembled, saying it made him happy to see so any people show concern. “When I fought Revere Chemical,” he said, “I stood alone. There was no one else.”

Planning Commission member Al Santopietro raised the idea of creating an environmental center at the newly named Rapp Creek Park, and Supervisor Nancy Janyszeski said she’d present the idea to other supervisors.

When a reporter remarked on the exception beauty of the creek, Donovan said, “That’s because we stay involved. This stuff doesn’t happen by itself.”

Rapp Creek Park is Born on Superfund Site
The infamous Revere Chemical site in Nockamixon Township became so polluted during the 1960s that it was designated a Superfund site in 1987. After it was finally cleaned up, the deed to the 113-acre site near Rt. 611 was transferred to the township for use as open space.

Now, the supervisors have unanimously voted to rename the site Rapp Creek Park, as a first step in the township’s newly minted park and recreation plan. By state law, a formal park and recreation development plan is required before the township can collect and spend recreation fees. Despite that, for several years, the township has been collecting recreation money for each new building lot developed. The plan approved at the August supervisors’ meeting will bring the township into compliance, permitting it legally to spend the money it’s been collecting.

The plan calls for baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and basketball courts to be built at Rapp Creek Park, along with hiking and biking trails, and bird-watching areas.

Shortly after the plan was approved, Planning Commission member Albert Santopietro came up with the idea of creating an environmental center at the park. “What better place for an environmental center than at a former Superfund site,” he said.

He and supervisor Nancy Janyszeski will try to interest other supervisors in the idea. If they get a positive response, they’ll begin exploring possible county, state, and federal assistance with funding, said Janyszenski. Any plans for Rapp Creek Park must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also figuring in the park and recreation plan are two currently unused sites, the 10-acre Sibre property and the 58-acre Gorham property. Though the only access to them is via Schoolhouse Lane, a private road, the plan calls for a baseball diamond on the Sibre property and a tennis court on the Gorham property.

According to a resident on Schoolhouse Lane, Alana Balogh, the township purchased the Gorham property without determining whether it had public access. Now, she is concerned the township will attempt to seize Schoolhouse Lane via eminent domain, and in fact, someone in the audience at the July supervisors’ meeting piped up with just that suggestion, so the idea is "in the air."

As usual in Nockamixon, this may lead to conflicts in the months ahead. But the better news is that the township is likely to get much-needed sports fields to the township.


CORRECTION: In the Sept. 6th edition of the Bucks County Herald, where this story appeared, we incorrectly identified Elaine Gawronski as the source of the eminent-domain comment. We regret the error.

Stephen Dovovan explains the situation
_________________________Delaware News______________________________________________________________________
HOME...What's Up...Galleries...Resources...Tutorials...Events...River Log...Delaware News...On Photography...Journeys...About...Contact
Stephen Donovan (red) leading inspection of Rapp Creek--and the dog takes a dip
Rapp Creek is a designated
Exceptional Value stream
Michael Moss (left) and Jim Diamond
A fallen tree in the stream bed
Roots twine around the rock banks
Rapp Creek
A rock face along the creek