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DEP says arsenic levels high in soil at proposed Pa. development

May 11, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Arsenic in soil at the site of a proposed development on Old Forge Road in Washington Township, Pa., tested on average 5 to 8 1/2 times higher than the amount deemed allowable by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, an engineer said Wednesday.

However, a remediation crew will scrape off an average of 6 inches of contaminated soil to ensure the level is reduced to the allowed 12 milligrams per kilogram, said Gary R. Brown of RT Environmental Services Inc. of King of Prussia, Pa.

The soil, contaminated by pesticides used on the apple orchard, tested in certain areas at 165 mg/kg, he said.

Long-term exposure to the higher levels could lead to skin abnormalities and several types of cancers. That would involve a child playing in contaminated soil and licking his or her hand each day, Brown said.

A cleanup plan for the 187 acres was formed by RT Environmental Services for Carlino Development Group of Wyomissing, Pa., and approved by the DEP. An inspector will be at the location whenever dirt is being moved, Brown said.

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The Thornhill Development has been proposed as approximately 500 units with a mix of single-family houses, apartments and town houses. It received preliminary approval as a whole, and Carlino Development Group has submitted the first of five phases for the Washington Township Supervisors' approval, Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

The phases of construction could last five to seven years or longer depending on the housing market, according to Stephen Najarian, who was representing the developer.

Dust from soil remediation will be mitigated using a water truck, erosion controls and the general monitoring of conditions, Brown said.

"If there's dust going off the site, the work's gotta stop," he said.

A few people who live near the site expressed greater concern about water runoff than dust.

"I really don't want water in my living room or my neighbor's house," said Rosie Harbaugh of 12117 Old Forge Road.

She is concerned that if it rains heavily as earth is being moved at the site, the flow of water onto Old Forge Road could be heavy. The road has been closed in the past due to flooding, she said.

"People are not going to be able to get to Wal-Mart or Lowe's," Harbaugh said.

Plans have been revised to include an additional berm to direct water away from nearby houses, Brown said.

Harbaugh said she has grown increasingly concerned about the runoff over the past week.

"Part of me says, 'Stay.' Part of me says, 'Don't be stupid - move,'" Harbaugh said.

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