U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta tells EPA to do more testing for Pittston residents
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, PA-11, today sent a letter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after an EPA official said Tuesday that the agency would not conduct additional testing to find any environmental sources of a potential cancer cluster in Pittston.
During a public forum held Tuesday night, an EPA official from Philadelphia said the agency’s concern in Pittston is the Butler Mine Tunnel Superfund site remediation. The official said the EPA would not perform additional soil and water testing near Carroll and Mill streets. Residents there have expressed a growing concern about the number of cancer cases in their neighborhood. Media reports indicate that, for instance, cancer cases have been reported in 14 of 16 houses in one block of this small neighborhood.
Less than 24 hours after the end of that meeting, Rep. Barletta sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asking the agency to expand the scope of testing to focus on the Carroll/Mill neighborhood.
“During the public meeting, an EPA representative repeatedly said the cancer cases could not be tied to the Butler Mine Tunnel Superfund site – an existing EPA remediation project – therefore, EPA would not consider conducting additional soil and water testing in Pittston, even in the Carroll/Mill neighborhood,” Rep. Barletta wrote. “Frankly, this is unacceptable. The EPA’s own Web site indicates that one of the agency’s primary reasons for existence is to ensure that ‘all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.’”
Rep. Barletta asked Ms. Jackson to investigate the existence of any potential environmental hazard in the Carroll/Mill neighborhood, report on the findings, develop any remediation plans that might be necessary, and work with state and local officials to implement those remediation plans.
“I’m deeply concerned that EPA seems to be ignoring the residents of the Carroll/Mill neighborhood, and the people of Pittston in general. If there is a cancer cluster in this area, what is the cause of it? If the Butler Mine Tunnel is not the cause, is there an environmental cause? And if there is an environmental cause, can it be remediated? These are all very serious questions, and the EPA is the federal agency that should provide the answers,” Rep. Barletta said. “I was surprised to hear an EPA official basically tell the residents of the Carroll/Mill neighborhood that they would not conduct soil and water testing to find answers. It is absolutely the EPA’s job, and I’m going to make sure that job is done. The residents are scared, and they deserve answers and peace of mind.”