The Alliance For A Clean Environment
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Landfill leachate tests:
results hard to swallow

Approach with caution.
That's the way citizens of West Pottsgrove should view the recent results of a study of Pottstown Landfill leachate.
Waste Management hired an environmental consultant to test the leachate after a complaint at a meeting in early March.
Township resident and political candidate Bill Fontaine said at the meeting that Waste Management's own "glowing" tests in 1985 indicated there was a high level of radiation in landfill leachate.
The consultant, Bruce Molholt, director of risk assessment and toxicology at Environmental Resources Management, Inc., of Exton, says now that the leachate contains no hazardous radioactive materials.
The study, he says, shows the leachate contains Potassium-40, a harmless substance found in lawn fertilizer and certain foods - including garbage.
So chomp on some Scott's Turf Builder or some orange peels and coffee grinds and you'll get the same effect, according to Waste Management's findings.
The so-called experts say the radioactive materials have the same elements found in foods like bananas. (Hopefully, not the glow-in-the-dark variety).
Potassium-40 is the largest component of radioactive material in our bodies, Molholt said. He added it's a "very prevalent" element in the earth's environment.
So is manure, which is beginning to closely resemble the report.
What we've gotten is the old "You'd have to drink thousands of gallons before it would hurt ya" speech.
"The risk is if 100,000 people were to drink two liters of leachate each day for 70 years, one could get cancer," Molholt said.
That's OK, Molholt. You can drink a couple of liters of that stuff for 70 years. We sure won't.
Not that we claim to be scientists, but with what has gone into the landfill, including asbestos and other dangerous materials, we find it difficult to believe that drinking the leachate could be safe in any quantity.
Fontaine, who has his own political agenda, has asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a study on the leachate.
The agency, he says, has agreed and will go ahead and conduct its own study despite what Waste Management's expert says.
That's good, because the findings of Waste Management's "experts" are giving off an odor as heavy as the stench from the landfill last fall.

Reprinted with permission by
The Pottstown Mercury
© June 26, 1996

P.O. Box 3063
Stowe, PA 19464

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