U.S. won't meet goals for bay

December 14, 1990|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

The U.S. government will not meet its goal of bringing all military installations and other federal facilities around Chesapeake Bay into compliance with anti-pollution regulations by Jan. 1.

But the problem, for the most part, is not in Maryland.

A report prepared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that all but one of the 18 federal installations in Maryland are complying with regulations governing sewage treatment and other activities, such as hazardous-waste disposal.

The report, dated Nov. 29, shows a problem remains with storage, training and other activities involving the management of hazardous waste at Ft. George G. Meade in western Anne Arundel County.

In April, William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator, set the Jan. 1 compliance goal for all federal facilities. Other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, which is the largest property owner along the bay, agreed to strive for that goal.

For the federal installations in Maryland, said Richard F. Pecora, an assistant secretary at the state Department of the Environment, "this is a good news story."

Reilly's goal of full compliance is an "unbelieveably stringent test," Pecora said, especially when federal budget problems are considered.

The list covers 57 military installations and other facilities, such as laboratories and hospitals, that have the greatest potential for harming the bay and its tributaries.

The five major federal sewage plants in Maryland, including those at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and at Fort Meade, are currently meeting discharge limits. At the proving ground, regulators and the Army have worked for two years to correct sewage-treatment problems.

Two of the nine facilities in the District of Columbia were in violation, but EPA officials say one has since agreed to correct problems. One of two facilities in Pennsylvania was in violation.

The lone West Virginia facility on the list was in compliance.

But, according to the EPA report, roughly a third of Virginia's 27 facilities of concern were having trouble abiding by discharge limits and other regulations.

John Roland, enforcement chief for the Virginia Water Control Board, said regulators had forced corrections of many problems in recent years at the scores of military installations in the Hampton Roads region and elsewhere. "We still have some problems," he acknowledged.

Roland said that in some cases Virginia has different, perhaps more stringent, ways of measuring compliance. That may account for the higher number of problems, he said.

Terry Oda, deputy chief of permits and enforcement at the EPA's regional office in Philadelphia, said regulators were working hard to achieve full compliance soon after Jan. 1.

"The progress is substantial," he said. "There are some difficult negotiations going on right now."

In some instances, compliance may be achieved technically, not actually, by entering into formal agreements with violators. The agreements set schedules for fixing problems, but the problems may persist for some time, Oda said.

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