Federal agency to take over Keystone cleanup EPA faults pace of previous efforts

November 17, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dissatisfied with private operators' plans to clean up Keystone Landfill -- a Superfund toxic waste site -- will take over the job.

Hydro-geologist Christopher J. Corbett told citizens groups last night that the EPA issued a stop-work order to 11 polluters that had been under agency orders to clean up contamination from the now-closed private landfill.

The landfill is just north of Silver Run in Adams County, Pa., and Maryland residents have blamed seepage from the landfill for contamination of their wells.

EPA held its informational meeting in Silver Run at St. Mary's United Church of Christ.

Mr. Corbett, EPA's project manager for the cleanup, said the agency acted "because of deficiencies in the third draft of the responsible parties' work plan."

He said the agency identified six or seven significant deficiencies in the plan. For example, the EPA wanted a geophysical investigation of the wells on the landfill property. The group responsible for the work refused.

The cost of the landfill cleanup has been estimated at $67 million, Mr. Corbett said.

The federal agency will contract to perform the work, then try to recover the cost from individuals or businesses that have been identified as polluters of the site.

"It's wonderful," Susan Hardinger, president of People Against Contamination of the Environment, said of the news.

Mr. Corbett said the EPA will have to draft a new work plan to: vent gases from the landfill; fence the property to prevent people from walking onto the site; cap the 35-acre landfill with impermeable clay to keep rainwater from percolating through the buried wastes; and pump and treat contaminated water.

The project manager said cleanup work at the landfill could begin in about one year.

The agency's order applies only to the landfill property.

Mr. Corbett said the EPA has not yet notified the 11 polluters whether the agency will also take over responsibility for cleanup of contamination, such as pollution of nearby wells, beyond the landfill property.

The hydro-geologist said he wants more information on the extent of off-site contamination before the agency makes a decision on taking over responsibility.

He has asked for a re-evaluation of fracture trace studies done earlier in the project's history.

The studies show how water moves through fissures in rock under the area.

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