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Expert: Monitoring wells subpar Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A hydrogeologist said inadequate monitoring wells prevent him from determining if dredged material and other fill at the Hazleton Creek Partners site threatens water supplies.
"A groundwater well should have groundwater in it," Robert Gadinski said Tuesday after testifying about the site on Friday before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

"I believe there are five wells. One in the middle of the site shows water periodically," Gadiniski said. Other wells are 30 feet deep and monitor sewage discharges, not the mine pool, he said.

A retired state hydrogeologist, Gadinski testified for Citizen Advocates United to Safeguard the Environment, or CAUSE.

CAUSE brought the case to the board. The group believes materials that Hazleton Creek can put into the 277-acre site under terms of a state permit might pollute water and pose other hazards.

Gadinski testified that monitoring wells need to be closer to the site. He also said consultants should test an underground lake and investigate whether hazardous vapors can move through the mines to homes.

Typically, wells are within 200 feet down gradient from sources of waste, whereas a site survey relies on water from the Hazleton Shaft, 1 miles away, he said.

The Buck Mountain Mine Pool, one of two at the site, is listed at an elevation of 1,345 feet in a report by Craig Robertston, an expert for Hazleton Creek Properties, the company reclaiming the site. Maps supplied with the report show the water level at 1,546 feet.

"Which is the level?" Gadinski asked.

Robertson was scheduled to testify later.

If the Buck Mountain Mine Pool is at the higher elevation, it might interact with wells along Route 309, Gadinski said. Potentially that could affect wells in the Hazleton Heights section, too, he said.

An underground lake might have formed between Hazleton Shaft and the site, Gadinski said. The water there never has been tested for depth and contamination with chemicals such as PCBs, which have been found in drums illegally dumped on the property, he said.

Gadinski also said no study has been done on whether vapors could move beneath the site through mines and into buildings.

"I brought up Tranguch, the Valmont site," Gadinski said of two spill sites where underground tanks leaked and vapors endangered residents in the Hazleton area. At Tranguch, gasoline leaked, and at Valmont a fluid called trichloroethylene posed a concern.

Earlier in the hearing, two hydrogeologists disagreed about how groundwater moves through the site.

Penn State University professsor Christopher Duffy, testifying for CAUSE, said some of the flow will go north but some will enter the Jeddo Mine Tunnel and reach Nescopeck Creek.

Alexander Zdzinski of the state Department of Environmental Protection, however, said the groundwater is likely to flow into the Jeddo Tunnel via the Hazleton Shaft and a connector called Tunnel X.

Gadinski said flows that Duffy and Zdzinski described both could occur, but the study of the site isnt detailed enough to be sure.

Sinking a monitoring well 600 feet into the mine pool would provide more answers, but the well would cost Hazleton Creek approximately $50,000 to drill.

Hazleton Creek obtained approval under terms of a general state permit to reclaim 277 acres that include mineland and a landfill. The company owned by William C. Rinaldi and Marvin Slomowitz plans to reclaim the land with dredged material mixed with fly ash and dust from cement or lime kilns.

When reclaiming ends, the site bounded by Routes 309, 93 and 924 will be ready for an amphitheater where Mayor Louis Barletta hopes major recording stars will perform concerts.

Administrative Law Judge Bernard Labuskes Jr. presides over the hearing, which is expected to last throughout April.

Another environmental group, SUFFER, or Save Us From Future Environmental Risk, challenged a separate approval that lets Hazleton Creek use dredged material and brick, block, stone, asphalt sorted from demoltion sites to build roads and a railroad siding.

The board hasnt scheduled that case for a hearing yet.

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