Because of a procedural glitch, the county has decided to cancel bids for a study of possible ground-water contamination from Scarboro Landfill and will issue a call for new bids.
Last month, the county Department of Procurement received seven bids for the hydro-geologic study, required by a February 1989 out-of-court agreement between the county and Scarboro-area residents whose wells were found to contain contaminants.
But Thursday the county discovered that the wrong type of bid application was sent to contractors by the procurement department, said Jefferson Blomquist, assistant county attorney.
"It was bid under the wrong format," Blomquist said. "We just sent out the wrong form."
Administrators were worried that the procedure used may obligate them to accept the lowest bid submitted. So the county decided late Friday to cancel the original bids and request new ones. The same seven contractors who originally submitted bids will be asked to turn in new ones under the proper procedure.
"That way we're in compliance with the procurement law," Blomquist said.
The bidding procedure that was used for the landfill project is more commonly used for buying routine supplies and services for which the county simply selects the lowest bidder, said F. G. "Bud" Holecheck, director of the procurement department.
But for more complex services -- such as the landfill study -- the county uses another procedure that allows the selection to be made on the basis of the contractor's qualifications, rather than on lowest price.
With the sensitivity of the landfill study in mind, Blomquist said the county wants to be certain it has the ability to select the best available contractor, and not be forced to award the contract to the lowest bidder.
Even though the study will be rebid, Blomquist said the county plans to award the contract for the study by the Dec. 3 deadline that was part of the court agreement.
"We're well within the time deadline," he said. "We're moving forward and we fully intend to fulfill our obligations in the agreement."
Bids could be resubmitted by contractors under the proper format within 10 days, Blomquist said.
Residents say testing by private contractors has shown that 22 wells near the 30-year-old landfill contain some form of contamination, and they claim that leeching from the landfill is responsible.
The county has blamed the landfill for contamination of one well used by a resident who lives adjacent to Scarboro.
The study is aimed at determining whether there is a link between contamination in area wells and the landfill, and will involve a variety of soil and ground-water testing and analysis, Blomquist said.
Expected to start in January and conclude within nine months, the study also is a requirement of the county's operating permit for the landfill issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment, Blomquist said.