Palmerton says no to well-drilling
Palmerton Borough Council turned down a request for approval on well-drilling from the EPA and CBS last week.
The organizations had previously asked for support from the borough in order to drill several wells mainly within the vicinity of the former sulfuric acid and cadmium plants on the east side of town.
The Palmerton Municipal Authority had already sent a letter to council president Terry Costenbader on Oct. 6, indicating that they did not recommend support for the new wells due to the ramifications surrounding potential contamination.
“There are a lot of safeguards put in place by the EPA, however, neither EPA nor CBS, which is the primary responsible party for the Superfund site, would accept responsibility from any ensuing contamination until it was proven that it was their fault,” borough manager Rodger Danielson said.
Even though the letter pointed out that “there currently is no known groundwater contamination below existing shall aquifers,” that proof of fault could put a hefty burden of testing fees on the borough.
“Even if you did prove it, it could be appealed and appealed and appealed in a yearslong process,” Danielson said.
Furthermore, Costenbader conveyed apprehension over the fact that the EPA and CBS were not prepared for the possibility that their drilling could affect local waters.
“Let’s just say if they would have contaminated the well, I asked whether they had a backup plan or a game plan, and no, they didn’t have one. That’s a no-brainer,” Costenbader said in regard to the decision to withhold support.
According to Danielson, the EPA may have jurisdiction to drill the wells anyway, but if they proceed in such a fashion, it will be without the support of the borough.
“They wanted us to sprinkle the holy water on it, and that ain’t happening,” Costenbader said.