Dillerville Rail-yard Foes Focus on Dump

Michael Yoder, Intelligencer Journal - The fight to keep the Dillerville rail yard away from their homes isn't being given up by some residents of Barrcrest and School Lane Hills.

Over 100 people attended a presentation at Grace Baptist Church on Marietta Avenue given by The Rail Road Action and Advisory Committee (TRRAAC). This local group was created to find alternatives for the rail yard and to fight the proposed move.

Co-chairwoman of TRRAAC, Kathy Ashworth, said that the goal of the group was not to stop development of the northwest corridor of Lancaster or the relocation which was proposed by Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster General Hospital and Norfolk Southern.

The goal, said Ashworth, is to change what is now a proposed "win-lose" relocation of the rail yard, which she said could threaten the safety and quality of life for local residents, to a "win-win" solution where the project proceeds and established neighborhoods are not affected.

Ashworth said, "The bottom line is that this project could start this month, and our concerns become greater the more we investigate."

According to the plan, the Dillerville rail yard, now near Harrisburg Avenue in northwest Lancaster city, would be relocated westward to a 12-acre site of the former Lancaster Brickyard dump behind the U.S. Post Office.

The owner of the property, FandM, is proposing to remove material from the dump, including potentially toxic items like asbestos, refill it with clean dirt and construct a new rail yard.

F&M will then dismantle the old yard and consolidate its athletic fields at that location. LGH is also hoping that part of the site can be reserved for expansion.

An environmental engineer, Gary Brown, hired by TRRAAC to review the project, said one of his biggest concerns after completing his review is how asbestos will be handled at the former dump. From 1957 to 1962 Armstrong World Industries Inc. dumped waste at the location.

Co-chairman of TRRAAC, Dan Gillis, was also an Armstrong employee from 1963 to 1986, and said that Hydrocord, a backing product used in some of the company's flooring products contained asbestos.

Armstrong used Hydrocord from 1954 until 1983 according to bankruptcy papers.

Gillis said some of the flooring products dumped by Armstrong would have contained Hydrocord and that Hydrocord is "friable," which means it is brittle and has the potential to produce air-borne, potentially cancer-causing asbestos fibers.

ARM, a Hershey-based environmental consultant that was hired by F&M conducted insufficient sampling of asbestos at the dump site according to Brown. Although twelve samples were taken at the site, it is suggested that about 240 samples be taken by Department of Environmental Protection standards.

Brown said, "Don't say that you're going to take care of everything and make promises about the duration of the project when you've only taken a small percentage of the samples needed."

An environmental lawyer for TRRAAC, Bill Cluck, said that in response to a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the proposed site he received several documents from federal Environmental Protection Agency offices in Philadelphia.

A 1987 assessment done by the Department of Environmental Resources, the fore-runner of DEP, to see if the land qualified as a Superfund Site resulted produced one of the documents titled "Preliminary Assessment of the former Lancaster Brickyard".

In the report, it was indicated that two inspections occurring at the site in March 1987 found "evidence of recent dumping from class III demolition waste and recent shallow excavation." The report also went on to state that waste building materials from Franklin & Marshall College were also being dumped at the site.

The reason that this document is important is that it showed that dumping was still taking place even after it supposedly stopped in 1962 said Cluck.

Because all dumping at the site stopped prior to 1980, the year the Solid Waste Management Act became effective, Cluck said that the current project appears to qualify for the state's Cleanup Liability Protection program. The project could potentially be stopped If there was dumping after 1980 because the project would not be eligible for liability protection according to Cluck.

Cluck said that for some reason the project partners have failed to disclose to DEP that dumping occurred in 1987 despite the fact that the liability protection issue is very important to them.

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