After 2 months, EPA returns Keystone landfill cleanup to private operators

January 12, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which took over cleanup of the Keystone landfill in November, has given the project back to private operators.

The agency's project manager for the cleanup explained to citizens at a meeting last night that the private operators agreed in December to satisfy all of the issues that led EPA to take over the project.

The private landfill operated from 1966 to 1990 in Pennsylvania near the Maryland border, north of Silver Run. The EPA put it on the Superfund list after contamination was found in wells near the landfill and in a small area of ground water in Maryland. No contamination by water from the landfill has been found in residential Maryland wells.

"Why did EPA turn around the decision? One of the things that went through the [division director's] mind" was how EPA would look if it said, "though it was at the 11th hour, 'They gave us everything we wanted, but it was just too late,' " EPA project manager Christopher J. Corbett told the Keystone landfill task force last night.

The agency would have had to go to court if it rejected the private operators' cleanup because, when EPA uses tax dollars to pay for a Superfund cleanup, it is legally required to try to recover the cost from those responsible for the contamination.

The task force is made up of representatives of Carroll County and Union Township, Pa., governments and citizens groups.

Susan Hardinger, president of the Silver Run area citizens group People Against Contamination of the Environment, said she had mixed feeling about the announcement.

Mrs. Hardinger said she was glad that EPA will be able to use private operators' documents for the cleanup plan rather than having to start fresh, but she questioned the last-minute reversal.

"Why at the 11th hour again? Whenever there's a deadline, they [the private operators identified by EPA as potentially responsible parties] have always gotten a second chance," she said.

Mr. Corbett said the private operators agreed to allow their technical consultants to work directly with EPA technical personnel.

He said the operators also promised to have consulting engineers from Sparks-based EA Engineering, Science and Technology attend task force meetings and work directly with the community.

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