Keystone Neighbors Wary Of Epa's Testing Reliability

Water Contamination Feared By Residents

May 22, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

SILVER RUN — Residents here are glad the wells of eight homes near the Keystone (Pa.) Landfill were tested last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but say the agency's methods could yield errors.

Kimmarle A. Traeger of the 700 block of Humbert Schoolhouse Road is one ofthe residents whose water was tested for volatile organic compounds that might be linked to Keystone.

"I'm hopeful the outcome (of the testing) will be comprehensive,"Traeger said. But in the seven years it has taken the EPA to get this far, she has learned not to expect much, she said.

"I'm not confident at all. Dealing with the EPA through the years, we have to constantly monitor what they do very carefully," Traeger said.

Two of the homes tested are on Biemiller Road, and six are along the north side of Humbert Schoolhouse Road.

Local activist Susan D. Hardingersaid she was pleased the EPA at least agreed to do more testing of private wells surrounding the landfill. But she said that she was concerned that homes that have shown contamination before are being excluded and that testing methods may yield inaccurate results.

Hardinger, also of Humbert Schoolhouse Road, is spokeswoman for the grass-roots People Against Contamination of the Environment, formed in 1984 to address North Carroll residents' concerns about the landfill.

Nosamples were taken from the home of Jeanne C. Bechtel, of the 1100 block of Humbert Schoolhouse Road. Bechtel said county testing of her well over five years in the 1980s showed some contamination, but health officials said the levels weren't high enough to warrant the stateproviding bottled water. Nevertheless, Bechtel said, her husband's "stomach problems" disappeared after he started drinking bottled water.

Hardinger said the testing consultants hired by EPA to get samples this week are taking them from outside spigots instead of directlyfrom the wells. She said residents who have paid for private testingin the past have learned that non-direct testing can yield unreliable results.

The EPA has maintained that no residential wells off the Keystone site have shown contamination above "allowable" limits, but the agency has agreed to test more homes because of residents' concerns, said Deborah Dewsbury, EPA project manager.

In addition to the eight wells on the Maryland side of the landfill, the EPA will test more than 20 nearby wells of Union Township, Pa., residents, Dewsbury said.

If any of the residential wells show contamination, she said, EPA probably would test more wells and provide bottled water to homes with contaminated water.

In 1987, the EPA identified Keystone as one of its Superfund sites, and is planning a $9 million cleanup. Routine testing by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources first found ground water contamination in 1982.

The EPA is negotiating with Keystone and about 30 businesses, industries and municipalities that have dumped waste in the landfill, to cover some of the cost of cleaning the ground water and putting a new cap on the waste.

But even as the federal cleanup moves along, the owners say they plan to apply for a permit for a new and larger landfill. Keystone Sanitation Co. manager Bill Bryant said the company dropped an appeal last fall for expansion, but will reapply.

The company is awaiting a Pennsylvania court decision on the fate of a state regulation limiting acceptance of out-of-state waste in landfills.

Bryant saidthat even if the regulation is upheld by the courts, however, Keystone will reapply for the expansion. The existing 35-acre Keystone landfill, just across the state line in Union Township, bordering Silver Run, closed in April 1990. The planned 200-acre landfill expansion would be adjacent to the current one on the east and north, Bryant said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.