Exasperated residents step up efforts to pressure EPA on landfill cleanup

October 18, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Susan Hardinger and her Silver Run neighbors are tired of waiting.

For more than two years, they've waited for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up a nearby Pennsylvania landfill that has contaminated their wells.

Now members of People Against Contamination of the Environment, or PACE, plan to lobby the county commissioners, county health officials and state lawmakers to pressure the EPA to get the cleanup under way.

"It's gone from bad to worse in the past nine years," Ms. Hardinger said. "Deadlines have meant nothing. [The EPA] has a pretty good plan on paper -- if they would just do it."

Although the EPA is working with 12 polluters to cap a portion of the landfill and clean up ground water, no actual work has begun, said Amy Barnett, an EPA community relations coordinator.

"We're working with them -- it's in the planning process," she said. "The process takes a number of years. It varies from site to site. It also varies with how big and how small the problems are."

The 35-acre Keystone landfill is located a quarter-mile over the line from Silver Run in Pennsylvania. Residents there found contamination in their wells a decade ago and pressured the EPA to investigate the site.

A year later, contamination was found in Carroll County wells.

The EPA has cited Keystone as one of the nation's worst polluted sites and has placed the landfill on its Superfund cleanup list. A 2.6-acre portion of the landfill is slated to be capped -- which would prevent further seepage of contaminants.

Because the agency has sought a cleanup of surrounding ground water as an additional part of the effort, the project -- once estimated at $11 million -- will take longer, Ms. Barnett said.

Silver Run residents, who formed the non-profit PACE, Inc. in 1984, are frustrated by what they deem a bureaucratic nightmare.

PACE also wants the EPA's project manager, David Turner, to come to Silver Run to discuss cleanup efforts. They want county commissioners and other officials to be present as well.

Ms. Barnett said that a meeting is possible but that the EPA must evaluate the situation, including any legal implications.

"We're discussing it now," she said. "We're willing to have a meeting with people who want to have a meeting. It depends where in the process we are."

The citizens' group is further frustrated because its members have heard that the EPA may change project managers again after several changes in the past nine years, Ms. Hardinger said. She said such changes delay the cleanup effort.

Ms. Barnett said she didn't know whether a new project manager would be named. Mr. Turner was appointed to the position in 1991. She conceded that changing project managers does slow the process because the new person has to become familiar with cleanup efforts.

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