The Environmental Protection Agency intends to restore to its "Superfund" priority cleanup list a Pennsylvania site it once declared was cleaned up, a top agency official told Congress last week.
The site is the Butler Mine Tunnel at Pittston, an old mine drainage tunnel used for decades for dumping chemical waste.
Rains from Hurricane Gloria last month forced 25,000 gallons of contaminated material out of the tunnel into the Susquehanna River, forcing the city water supply to stop taking water from the river and switch to a reservoir for several hours.
A similar episode in 1979, the year before passage of the Superfund waste dump cleanup law, led to the expenditure of nearly $2.9 million to clean up the river.
The hurricane incident has been embarrassing to EPA in congressional debate over renewal of the Superfund law. The Butler site had been one of the six the agency had declared cleaned up in 1982 even though the cleanup supervisor had reported there was a "probability of another discharge."
EPA official William N. Hedeman Jr. told the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on commerce, transportation and tourism that the agency "will include the site" on the next proposed updating of the Superfund list, expected before the end of the year