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DEP says township orchard site ripe with pesticides

April 28, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Washington Township, Pa., officials and representatives of Carlino Development Group of Wyomissing, Pa., are scheduled to talk today about what one resident recently called "our own, very personal 187-acre Superfund site."

Pat O'Connor was referring to the Thornhill Development in planning stages on a former apple orchard on Old Forge Road.

Pesticides applied to the apples over several decades have left arsenic and lead in the soil, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Spokesman John Repetz said.

The DEP agreed to a plan of action and report by RT Environmental Services of King of Prussia, Pa., he said.

"Most of the problem is going to be scraped away," Repetz said.

Crews will have to scrape off the first 6 inches of earth and mound it on the site. That material then will be covered by up to two feet of clean fill, Repetz said.

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Today's meeting was designed to give two supervisors and township staff a better idea of that process, Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

The supervisors had granted a second time extension and tabled further review of the Thornhill Development until July 17. Initial phases of the development went before the supervisors last year.

It is approximately 500 units with a mix of single-family houses, apartments and town houses, according to Christopher.

Peter Carlino of Carlino Development did not return messages left on his office voice mail.

"I've probably gotten more calls and comments on this than anything else," Supervisor John Gorman said Wednesday.

Christopher said that once the small group understands who does what, where and how, a public hearing or presentation might be held.

"The people, the experts, need to come out," Christopher said Wednesday.

The development extends from near the intersection of Old Forge Road and Washington Township Boulevard to the Woodcrest Development.

Repetz said the mounds of contaminated soil would be maintained as open space. Soil elsewhere could be mixed with clean fill, he said.

"Each individual lot will have to be tested," Repetz said.

Repetz said that, as far as he knows, this is the first time an apple orchard with contaminated soil has been developed in the 15-county southcentral region of DEP.

"It's not the first time we've encountered this in the state," he said.

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