Federal officials can't say when the cleanup of ground water near Keystone Landfill in Pennsylvania will start, because they don't know when they'll get the responsible companies and municipalities to pay for it.
No agreements on payment have been reached with the approximately 30 potentially responsible parties identified so far, said James T. Heenehan, an attorney with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The parties include Keystone Sanitation Co. and businesses and municipalities that have dumped waste in the company's sanitary landfill. The landfill closed in April 1990.
Keystone is just across the state line in Union Township, Pa., less than a quarter-mile from Carroll County. Residents of Silver Run have joined the landfill's Pennsylvania neighbors in concern over
contaminated ground water found near the landfill.
Activist Susan D. Hardinger, of Humbert Schoolhouse Road, said the pace of the cleanup has been slow and included repeated mistakes by state and federal agencies in testing and attempts to come up with a cleanup plan.
"Sometimes I ask myself, 'Is this 1991, or is this 1985?' because we're really doing the same stuff," Hardinger said.
Bill Bryant, manager of the landfill company, declined to comment, saying the issue was very "complicated."
Heenehan said the agency also is investigating another 10 parties for potential responsibility.
He said the agency sends notices to industries or municipalities that dumped potentially hazardous waste at Keystone.
Among the 30 identified so far, some will be given the opportunity to settle with EPA for a minimum amount of liability because they dumped very little waste in Keystone, Heenehan said.
He said he could not say yet how many of the 30 will be given this opportunity, butsaid the total amount of money they would contribute would cover about one-third of the estimated $9 million cost of pumping and treatingsurrounding ground water and recapping the landfill.
Such a settlement can be in the best interest of a business or industry, Heenehansaid, because it would relieve it of future liability.
One Keystone customer that the EPA had not identified as potentially responsible has shown interest in voluntarily participating in a minimum settlement as protection from future lawsuits, he said.
For those that won't negotiate payment toward the cleanup, the EPA eventually will issue an order to pay, said Deborah Dewsbury, project manager for the EPA. If they still resist, the EPA can take them to court to collect the money.
Heenehan said the EPA can identify those potentially responsible, but only a court can find a party liable.