Residents ask about exposure Keystone Landfill subject of hearing

November 04, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

The Maryland Department of the Environment came to Silver Run yesterday for a daylong public health assessment meeting on the Keystone Landfill Superfund site.

Only three residents -- from the 26 homes tested in the area -- brought questions about the effects of possible exposure to hazardous chemicals to the six-member panel.

"I think it will be generations before we see if people are effected by the water here," said Susan Hardinger. "I would like to see the major problems experienced by families whose wells were contaminated years ago brought out in public."

Ms. Hardinger, president of People Against Contamination of the Environment Inc., a nonprofit group formed in 1984 to battle environmental problems associated with the landfill, told the panel that no one in her neighborhood drinks the water from their wells.

The state established monitor wells between Keystone and residences to track any contamination.

"Six monitor wells and 35 residential [wells] were recently tested by the EPA," said Sesh Lal, chemical engineer and MDE program manager. "The off-site wells have not been impacted."

Ms. Hardinger said the most recent EPA tests on wells "didn't inspire any confidence."

"I don't imagine people will start drinking water from their wells after eight years," she said. "We have seen test results fluctuate."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency cited the 35-acre landfill, a quarter-mile across the Pennsylvania border from Carroll County, as one of the nation's worst polluted sites and placed it on the Superfund cleanup list in 1987. Wells at several properties adjoining the landfill were found to be contaminated.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry made a $100,000 grant available to the MDE to assess health effects on persons living near hazardous sites at several locations in the state.

"We review data and evaluate any potential situations in regard to public health," said Ellen Coe, program administrator for the MDE Environmental Health and Surveillance Department. "This day is a fact-finding mission for us."

Shannon Cameron, environmental toxicologist, said, "There is a lot of stress associated with living near these sites."

Nearly 12 years ago, after Pennsylvania officials found contamination of ground water, citizens pressured the EPA to investigate the site.

A year later, contamination was found across the state line in Carroll County.

Ms. Hardinger told the panel of several families from those homes whose children had multiple health problems.

They have since moved from homes adjoining the site. Through an agreement with the landfill owners, they will not discuss health problems publicly.

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