Residents get preview of study on Keystone contamination

June 01, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

A citizens' group got a preview last night of an engineering plan to assess contamination around the Keystone landfill.

But members of the Keystone Landfill Task Force -- representatives of citizens' groups and local governments in Carroll County and Adams County, Pa. -- reacted angrily at being denied a chance to lobby a federal agency for a neighborhood health effects study.

Keystone, a privately owned landfill about 600 yards across the Maryland-Pennsylvania border in Union Township, Pa., was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund cleanup list in 1987. The landfill ceased operations in 1990.

Jack Kelly, regional representative for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reported at last night's task force meeting that the agency has rejected the group's request for a conference call. The group planned to use the conference call to lobby that agency for a health assessment.

"So, they're afraid to hear from the community on what we want done," said Susan Hardinger, president of the Silver Run area group People Against Contamination of the Environment (PACE).

"We live here, we pay their salaries and I think we have a right [to be heard]," said Joseph Minor, president of the Union Township board of supervisors.

Mr. Kelly said that an Atlanta, Ga.-based panel of physicians will evaluate a health assessment written by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and decide whether to follow it with further studies.

He said the ATSDR rejected the citizens' conference call request on the grounds that lobbying efforts haven't been permitted in the past and that public comments were accepted when the Pennsylvania health officials wrote their assessment.

The task force got a preview of the off-site investigation planned by Halliburton-NUS Corp. engineers under a contract with EPA. The formal outline of the investigation is scheduled for presentation at the next task force meeting in July.

The company plans to study areas on all four sides of the landfill, including parts of Carroll County from below Humbert Schoolhouse Road north to the Pennsylvania line.

Engineer William Wentworth cautioned the residents, "If the samples come up clean, we're not going to be able to say there's anything wrong here."

He outlined plans to test surface water and sediment; possible methane leaks outside the landfill; residential wells and monitoring wells for metals and volatile organic compounds; potential habitats and wildlife species most likely to be exposed to contamination; and additional tests such as fish tissue studies if the earlier tests indicate evidence of possible contamination, and impacts on crops and livestock.

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