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EPA gets the lead out at chemical dump site

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

LAMBSBURG — The clean up crew working to dispose of acid found at a former Old Pipers Gap Road business has now removed lead from the ground.

Carroll County declared a local emergency in early October as the Environmental Protection Agency started cleaning up the acid at the Lambsburg site where workers once used acid to deconstruct computers and reclaim the gold inside.

They found the acid in more than 300 barrels, which the crews offloaded into tanks to remove it from the property.

The federal officials did two tests on the ground where most of the processing of the computers was done, said EPA On-site Coordinator Jack Kelly. The tests looked for levels of six or so metals, including lead.

One of the tests, designed to look for possible hazardous materials that might leech out and get into water, found slightly elevated levels of lead, Kelly said.

Clean up workers decided to excavate that area behind the building to handle the wastes there.

Kelly explained that the business had processed coaxial cables by grinding them up, and remnants of those remained on the site.

Those were pushed into piles and collected for disposal by either the property owner or the EPA, he said.

The dirt from the main processing area, where the acid had been poured on computers, was dug up and placed in two 20-yard roll-off containers for disposal, Kelly said. That took care of the lead, too.

That area has been covered over with a layer of gravel.

So the question for Kelly became how to dispose of the dirt with the lead? Could that go to a regular landfill or would it have to be sent to a hazardous materials landfill?

Because of the lead, it looks like the answer is the latter, Kelly decided. "This is mainly for disposal reasons."

Putting the dirt with the lead into a haz mat landfill will keep those materials from leaching out and getting into the groundwater where they have been disposed of, because those kinds of landfills are built to prevent that, he explained.

Testing so far has shown that pollutants have not gotten into the water at the Lambsburg site, said Kelly's latest report. "To date, sampling results at the site suggest that metals have not leached to groundwater although it is unclear how long the ground-up wire has been located on site soils," the report said.

The closest haz mat landfills are in Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and the long transport will make that disposal more expensive.

But except for the removal of the roll-off containers, the clean up of the Old Pipers Gap site is largely done. "We're gone. We've left the property."