EPA aims to clean water

Comments accepted on Pa. landfill plan

June 22, 2000|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Carroll County residents living near Silver Run, just south of the Pennsylvania border, might have a better shot at clean water in the future.

A new technique may allow contaminants to be vacuumed directly from contaminated soil, helping to clean up Keystone Landfill, a Superfund site in Union Township, Pa., 1,200 feet from the Mason-Dixon Line. Superfund, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was created by Congress in 1983 to locate, investigate and clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites throughout the country.

Contaminants from the landfill have leaked into the groundwater that area residents use to drink, wash and water their gardens. In 1990, EPA ordered the construction of a groundwater treatment plant, which should begin operation by the end of the summer.

In addition, the agency had called for a cap over Keystone. This cap, made of dense soil, would prevent water from trickling through the waste and into the water supply.

Construction of the cap was stalled by litigation disputing its need by Waste Management of Pennsylvania, the owner of the site, and Kenneth F. and Anna Noel of Hanover, Pa., Keystone's former owner-operators.

Residents also opposed the plan, fearing the cap's construction would strain the area's one-lane roads with heavy trucks filled with dirt.

"We're a rural neighborhood," said Susan Hardinger, president of People Against Contamination of the Environment, a local activist group.

Under the new plan, the EPA recommends attacking the source of the problem directly with gas extraction, a technique first used to treat oil spills in soil. The methane and other volatile, dangerous gases created in the landfill would be vacuumed and burned. Those gases pollute water as it passes through the landfill.

"Pound for pound, you can pull out more contaminants with gas extraction than with groundwater treatment," said Kelley Chase, remedial project manager for the Keystone project.

Soil gas extraction, which would cost about $3.5 million to build and a projected $2 million for operation and maintenance over the next 20 years, would be less expensive than capping the landfill. A cap would cost $8.5 million to build and maintain.

EPA will accept public comment on the gas-extraction proposal until Aug. 4. The agency will then review the responses and decide whether to implement the plan.

The revised plan will be presented to the public at a town meeting at 7 p.m. tonight in the Abbottstown Fire Company Hall, 38 East King St., Abbottstown, Pa. Information: 800-553-2509 or 717-259-0697.

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