Group to fight cleanup proposal Keystone Landfill once again is issue

Public meeting tonight

EPA plan targets only one Md. well

July 21, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The Environmental Protection Agency's latest cleanup proposal for Keystone Landfill offers protection for the drinking water of only one Carroll County family, an omission a local group plans to address at a meeting with the agency tonight.

Keystone, a closed private landfill in Adams County, Pa., 300 yards from the Carroll County line, was placed on the EPA Superfund cleanup list in 1987.

Prodded by citizen activists, EPA has pursued lawsuits against users of the landfill, assessed the extent of contamination beyond the landfill and devised plans to cap the landfill and treat contaminated water on the 35-acre site.

The EPA will hear public comment on its revised cleanup plan at 7 p.m. at Abbottstown Volunteer Fire Company, 138 E. King St., Abbottstown, Pa. The agency will receive written comment through Aug. 30.

The revised plan, a successor to a 1990 proposal that focused only on the cleanup of the landfill site, proposes that the EPA supply filters for 43 residential wells in Pennsylvania, but for only one in Maryland.

"I think it's a very misguided and unfortunate plan," said Susan Hardinger, president of the Silver Run-area citizens group, People Against Contamination of the Environment. "We have a Superfund site in our community and the whole community should get equal protection."

The EPA plan relies on a 1997 study that concluded that polluted wells along Humbert Schoolhouse Road in Carroll County were not contaminated by Keystone. The study said that an unnamed stream, which lies in a valley between Keystone and Humbert Schoolhouse Road to the south, acts as a barrier to contaminants leaving the landfill.

Only one Maryland home lies north of the tributary and would be eligible for well filters. The filters are designed to remove cancer-causing and liver-damaging chemicals, which might seep into ground water before the cleanup at the landfill is completed. Chemicals and toxic substances have been found in ground water, springs and creeks outside the landfill.

The study that EPA relied on to exclude Maryland residents from well protection devices was not conclusive, Hardinger said. She said the revised plan might not be the final cleanup proposal.

"It sounds as if they're thinking that Maryland is out of the picture," Hardinger said.

The revised proposal calls for the EPA to follow through with its earlier plans to decontaminate ground water on the landfill site; add wells to pump additional ground water beyond the site for treatment; test drinking water annually from 15 percent of the homes with filters to ensure the filters are working; and continue sampling streams and sediment to be sure contaminants aren't reaching streams.

EPA is legally required to win community acceptance before making the plan final, "but they haven't yet given us a definition of community acceptance," Hardinger said.

The Union Township, Pa., group, Citizens Urge Rescue of the Environment, has submitted written comments criticizing the plan to shut out well protection measures for Maryland residents, said Mary D. Minor, CURE president.

Minor said she plans to comment tonight, and also will continue to work to get national policy-makers to focus on the health effects of hazardous waste sites on nearby residents.

Minor lives in Hanover, Pa., but spent three decades living near Keystone Landfill.

"We want to move into protective intervention. After 32 years, we think we deserve it," she said.

Pub Date: 7/21/98

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