The long-awaited cleanup of the Keystone Landfill hasn't begun, but the Environmental Protection Agency already has spent $1.4 million on the 40-acre Superfund site a quarter-mile north of Carroll County.
In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., the EPA is seeking to recoup the money the agency has spent on Keystone and to ensure the agency is reimbursed for all future costs associated with the cleanup.
The agency says it has spent $1.4 million on studies and other preliminary work connected with the cleanup of Keystone, in Union Township, Pa., just across the state line.
Defendants in the lawsuit are Keystone, its owners and eight other companies that, the agency says, either transported or manufactured hazardous materials found in the landfill.
"This suit gives us the right to go forward with our cost recovery," said Hal Yates, an EPA Region 3 spokesman in Philadelphia.
He said the lawsuit is a routine and necessary step to ensure that those responsible for polluting the site pay for its cleanup.
Robert B. Hoffman, an attorney for Keystone and its owners, Kenneth F. and Anna M. Noel, said yesterday that he wasn't surprised by the lawsuit.
"These cost-recovery lawsuits are very typical," the lawyer said. "They very often become the vehicle to spread the responsibility around to anyone who is responsible for the [pollution] to share in the cost."
Mr. Hoffman said that he would not be surprised to see the 10 current defendants sue to recover money from other suppliers, transporters and manufacturers of waste who contributed to the landfill's contamination.
The cleanup at the now-closed landfill is still in the planning stages, Mr. Hoffman said.
Contaminants were detected at the landfill in 1982.
Well monitoring in the Silver Run area of Carroll and some areas in southern Pennsylvania has shown contamination traced to the landfill.
The EPA maintains that no residential wells near Keystone have shown contamination above allowable limits.