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Budget proposal includes money for well testing

June 25, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

QUINCY, Pa. - A proposal in the governor's budget for 2007-08 includes provisions to fund the cleanup of designated hazardous sites in Pennsylvania, but they are not long-term solutions, state Rep. Todd A. Rock said.

Money from the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund is being used to test wells and investigate the source of trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in Quincy Township, Pa.

TCE at unsafe levels was found in a dozen wells during testing in October 2006. The chemical can cause a number of health problems when ingested, inhaled or contacted by skin.

The governor has proposed increasing the "tipping fee" on the disposal of municipal solid waste, said Rock, R-Franklin.

Of the $2.75-per-ton increase, $2.25 of it would be set aside for the cleanup fund. That would generate about $50 million a year, Rock said.

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The 2002-03 state budget first put the cleanup fund's revenue in jeopardy, according to the latest annual report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Growing Greener II act from 2005 partially funded efforts in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the report stated.

"No long-term solution has been offered by the administration this year other than increasing fees again. I fully support a permanent funding solution for the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Program, but do not think a continued reliance on higher taxes and fees provides us with the sustainable funding option Pennsylvania needs," Rock said.

Pennsylvania's fiscal year ends June 30, but budget negotiations in the past have gone beyond that deadline.

As of June 30, 2005, the cleanup fund supported 261 employees working on more than 100 projects a year, according to the DEP report. The Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act of 1998 gave the environmental protection department "the authority to investigate, assess and provide for the cleanup of sites that are currently releasing or threatening the release of hazardous substances or contaminants into the environment," the report stated.

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