Mikulski to meet with group about Keystone Landfill cleanup is 15 to 18 months off

January 17, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

A Silver Run citizens group will select representatives tomorrow to meet with U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, to discuss problems concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup of a nearby landfill.

"We need help for this community," said Susan Hardinger, president of People Against Contamination of the Environment Inc. "We've had a leaking dump in the middle of the community for too long. We need whatever help she can give us to get that contamination cleaned up."

Many Silver Run residents have been using bottled water since wells in the area were found to be contaminated several years ago.

The Keystone Sanitation Landfill, about a quarter-mile over the county line in Pennsylvania, is the suspected source of the contamination.

The EPA cited the Keystone land fill as a Superfund site in 1987. EPA has been working with 11 polluters to cap a portion of the landfill, but no actual work has begun. EPA officials told residents at a meeting in November that the work would not begin for another 15 to 18 months.

Tired of dealing with the EPA and the long process involved in the cleanup, PACE has been pressing Ms. Mikulski to meet with them. State Sen. Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll and Baltimore, state Del. Donald B. Elliott, R-Carroll and Howard, were instrumental in setting up the meeting, Ms. Hardinger said.

"We need to talk to her about our problems with EPA," Ms. Hardinger said. "They're severe. It's a bad process. People who are supposed to implement the cleanup are not doing their jobs responsibly, and she needs to know that."

Three PACE representatives will meet with Ms. Mikulski at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Washington. Mr. Haines, Mr. Elliott and EPA representatives also are expected to attend the meeting.

"We're limited to three people, so whoever attends the meeting carries every single concern that the people who live in the area have," Ms. Hardinger said. "Above and beyond that, we still have to work with EPA. We have to figure out how to shake loose some of the information from them."

Amy Barnett, an EPA community relations coordinator, could not be reached for comment Friday.

PACE has pressured the EPA to allow the group a greater role in the cleanup. The group asked EPA to allow community representatives from Pennsylvania and Maryland to attend meetings with the polluters.

EPA rejected the request, saying citizens have never been involved in the

process. The agency also said issues that are enforcement-sensitive or confidential arise in the meetings.

That response has annoyed PACE members.

"Nobody's there representing us. Isn't that ridiculous? This is America," Ms. Hardinger said. "If it hasn't been done before, it certainly should have been. The whole basis for the Superfund law is to protect communities."

Ms. Hardinger said there were attempts made six years ago by Pennsylvania officials to contain the contamination but that was stopped when Keystone was named a Superfund site.

"Contamination is spreading farther and farther," Ms. Hardinger said. "It's irresponsible when EPA refuses to share information about what they're doing or not doing."

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at St. Mary's United Church of Christ on Mayberry Road, Silver Run.

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