Friday, November 4, 2016

Town's Expert Cross Examined by Quarry Attorney

Image from last month's presentation by Toby Kessler on the potential for quarry operations at the Gibraltar Rock site to exacerbate the pollution at the adjacent Good's Oil Company site of Route 663.

The attorney for Gibraltar Rock had his turn Thursday night, using his cross-examination at a zoning hearing to try to poke holes in last month's testimony by an expert hired by New Hanover Township that operations from a proposed quarry expansion could exacerbate groundwater pollution there.

The attorney, Stephen Harris, was cross-examining Toby Kessler, a hydro-geologist with Gimore and Assoc., a firm the township hired to assess the threat of the contamination spreading.

Prior to Kessler's testimony, an expert from EarthRes, the firm hired by Gibraltar Rock to answer the same set of questions, testified that there was little chance the quarry expansion would affect the groundwater contamination.

The contamination in question came from the from the former Good's Oil Company site on Route 663. The contamination with TCE and 1,4 dioxane, two potential carcinogens, ruined several wells and required a $2 million extension of the public water system to provide safe drinking water to residents there.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reached an agreement with Ethan Good, who controls the trusts which own the property, to pay for the installation of the new water system and the clean-up costs.

Harris delivered news on that front as well.

He said the DEP has located the concrete pit in which the chemicals were stored and drained it. He said a public hearing to explain those action to the public will be held Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Boyertown Junior High West.

Harris also tried to use Kessler's previous testimony about the clean-up of the EPA Superfund site in which the former Bally Case & Cooler Co. polluted wells that supplied the borough of Bally's water supply.

He noted that the levels of 1,4 dioxane the EPA permits to be discharged into the West Branch of Perkiomen Creek, a stream classified as cleaner than Swamp Creek, is higher than the highest levels of contamination found at the Hoff site.

Harris also inferred that since the tributary of Swamp Creek into which the quarry expansion would discharge is not currently a source of public drinking water, a higher pollution clean-up standard might not be required.

The next zoning hearing on the subject was set for Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the township building, during which residents will be permitted to testify.

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