ELS Campground Faces $250,000 Fine
The Upper Bern Township supervisors near Reading, Pa., have voted unanimously to impose the largest fine in the township's history, $205,000, on a shuttered RV campground, according to the Reading Eagle.
The penalty levied against Appalachian Campsites on Wednesday (Feb. 11) pertained to 136 illegal septic tanks that Appalachian operated in the campground, according to the township.
The 87-acre campground was closed last year after the township ordered it to correct the sewage problems.
It has been taking reservations for its 45th anniversary in May, but township officials say the owner, Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) of Chicago, has done nothing to correct the sewage problems, and the site is all but abandoned.
ELS has 60 days to appeal the fine. Company representatives could not be reached Thursday.
Township officials say the campground could solve its sewage problems by tying into a sewer line running under Interstate 78 to the township wastewater treatment plant. But that would require extensive upgrades to the campground's sewage system and no plans have been submitted.
Township engineer J. Jerome Skrincosky said the township has met with ELS representatives more than 10 times and they've shown little willingness to correct the problem.
"They're a large corporation," Skrincosky said. "They just want to show their investors a profit without having capital expenses."
Appalachian Campsites also has been the subject of a federal investigation that began after old battery casings were found there in late 2007.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency subsequently determined that soil lead levels exceeded federal standards at four of the 400 campsites and in some common areas.
Exposure to lead-contaminated soil can cause health problems, particularly in young children.
The EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection were working on a cleanup plan with the campground owners when it shut down last spring, an EPA spokesman said then.