Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TRRAAC attorney: F&M trying to pull wool over public's eyes

The Railroad Action & Advisory Committee (TRRAAC) held a press conference late this morning to explain why they are appealing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's October 3 approval of Franklin & Marshall College's Remedial Investigation Report and Cleanup Plan for the former Lancaster Brickyard waste site.

The appeal, which was filed last Thursday, asserts that a "public involvement plan" was not made available prior to F&M's June 19 public presentation and did not address the issue of potentially friable asbestos at the site. A public involvement plan is required by state law.

According to TRRAAC attorney Bill Cluck, F&M and its engineer, the ARM Group, assert that the information boards and handouts made available at the June 19 meeting constituted public involvement.

Cluck says the law requires more.

"The first issue we've alleged in our appeal is that the document does not have a section or a summary written in plain language. It is a statutory requirement in Pennsylvania under section 901 of Act 2... that a remedial investigation report contain a section or a summary written in plain language and the purpose is to better inform the public of the proposed cleanup," Cluck said.

"This is just another example of trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes."

He went on to assert that the notice of intent to remediate did not include asbestos as a contaminant of concern.

"It wasn't until members of TRRAAC raised the concern with Franklin & Marshall early in 2008... that they did sampling," Cluck said.

And even then, they only collected 12 samples of the floor tile in total, according to Cluck, not 12 samples of each kind of material, as Orris claimed in an October 30 letter.

"Our primary concern is not the tile itself but the hydrocord backing," Cluck explained.

Manheim Township will host a meeting of the concerned parties on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Manheim Township Middle School. The purpose of the meeting is to give the public opportunity to comment on the 1,000+ page Remedial Investigation & Cleanup Plan.

"We urge the affected public: come out to this meeting. Express your concerns about this material," Cluck said.

Cluck went on to discuss other concerns that TRRAAC has. He urges PA DEP to investigate whether Franklin & Marshall College dumped any material at the site in the 1980s.

The law says that if a person contributed to the contamination of a site, they are ineligible for public and state funds for its cleanup, he explained.

F&M expects approximately $20 million from the federal and state governments to help pay for the cleanup of the site.

So the propriety of the funding depends on whether Franklin & Marshall College is the applicant for the funding rather than the Lancaster Solid Waste Management Authority, which actually owns the site, and if F&M is the applicant, whether they dumped at the site after 1980, as some accounts suggest.

Cluck went on to say that it is inappropriate for F&M to be requesting $20 million in taxpayer dollars for this project of theirs - especially with its potential public health impacts - at a time when Governor Ed Rendell is asking state schools to find ways to cut more than 4% from their budgets.

Cluck is an environmental and land use attorney whose office is in Harrisburg.

He has been practicing for 20 years.

"I've never been in a situation where I've had my personal credibility attacked," he noted, referring statements made in the public dispute between TRRAAC and F&M.

F&M Director of Media Relations Dulcey Antonucci was present at the press conference but had no immediate comment.