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Martinsburg sites on EPA cleanup list

July 15, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two Berkeley County locations are among more than 1,700 hazardous waste sites in need of cleanup, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The General Motors complex on Warm Springs Avenue in Martinsburg and the DuPont facility on U.S. 11 in Falling Waters are both working with the EPA after waste spills were found at both sites, said Bob Greaves, an EPA operations chief in Philadelphia, Pa.

Neither location poses an immediate health hazard, but the EPA wants to make sure there are no long-term negative effects on groundwater or the surrounding ecosystem, Greaves said.

DuPont is in the process of determining the amount of chemicals, including nitroglycerine, that have leaked into the ground at its Falling Waters location, EPA Project Manager Martin Kotsch said.

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"Over the years the company has had spills and releases of chemicals in the manufacturing of explosives," Kotsch said.

The 47-year-old company stopped making explosives in 1994, but DuPont is conducting soil and groundwater tests to determine the extent of the contamination, DuPont Business and Operations Manager Max Burnham said.

"We've already removed some contaminated soil, and I think we're in pretty good shape," Burnham said.

General Motors has almost completed a cleanup operation at its Service Parts Operations in Martinsburg, EPA Project Manager Mike Jacobi said.

About 88 pounds of paint thinner from an above-ground storage tank leaked into the ground at the facility, forcing GM to install a pump and filter system for contaminated groundwater, Jacobi said.

"It was a pretty small amount compared to some of the companies we work with," Jacobi said.

GM representatives could not be reached for comment, and Jacobi was unsure when the leak occurred.

The automaker is expected to complete its cleanup cycle this year but will stay on the EPA's hazardous waste site list, Greaves said.

"The responsibility to keep a site clean never goes away," Greaves said.

The DuPont and GM sites were identified in the early 1990s as part of the federal Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act, according to the EPA.

The facilities on the list were not covered under Superfund regulations because they were not severely contaminated or abandoned, according to the EPA.

Most of the toxic pollution found at the facilities predates modern safety practices, the agency said.

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