A Snag In Water Cleanup

Posted: November 09, 1989

East Pikeland Township residents living near the Kimberton Superfund site want clean drinking water. But they don't want to give up their private water wells and start paying public water bills in order to get it.

Therein lies the problem with a proposed plan to clean up the Kimberton site, which in 1982 was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of hazardous waste sites targeted for cleanup.

The Kimberton site, which borders Hares Hill and Cold Stream Roads and Route 113, was owned by the Ciba-Geigy Corp. during the 1950s. The firm manufactured plastics through a process that led to groundwater and soil contamination, according to J. Stewart Johnson, an environmental production manager with Ciba-Geigy.

The property now is owned by Monsey Products Corp.

During a township supervisors meeting Tuesday at East Pikeland Elementary School, representatives from Ciba-Geigy Corp., the EPA, the state Department of Environmental Resources and Citizens Utilities Co. discussed the proposed cleanup with about 150 township residents.

The contaminated area is close to several privately owned water wells, Supervisor John Doyle said. High levels of chlorinated hydrocarbon chemicals have been found in several wells sampled by the DER, Doyle said, and as many as 25 residences and businesses have been affected by contaminated water.

According to Johnson, Ciba-Geigy is willing to pay for the installation of public water mains and service connections to the homes and businesses. The corporation also has offered to pay each home and business owner $2,500 toward replacing water sources, he said.

Johnson said, however, that Ciba-Geigy was asking each property owner to discontinue using private water wells or carbon-filtration systems.

Many residents of the Kimberton area complained that they had free, clean drinking water before Ciba-Geigy contaminated the area. The $2,500 lump sum would pay only for about four or five years of water bills, residents said. After that, many residents said, they would be faced with average annual water bills between $400 and $600.

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