Epa Removing Stored Chemicals

Soil And Water Samples From The Area Are Tested For Contamination

January 13, 1991|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

GAITHER — State and federal workers finished packing most of the chemicals stored in a Patapsco Drive house Friday and will probably be removing them next week, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of the removal.

Some of the chemicals, such as a small amount of explosives and some low-level radioactivematerial, already have been removed, said Leanne Nurse.

The rest are secured in impermeable plastic drums, waiting to be taken to a licensed disposal plant, she said.

Test results should arrive this week from soil and water samples taken from the house, in the 7600 block of Patapsco Drive, in which the owner had stored the chemicals for an estimated seven years, and from around five adjacent properties, said Charles Zeleski, assistant director of the Bureau of Environmental Health, in the Carroll Health Department.

Zeleski said the Maryland Department of the Environment is testing these samples for the presence of metals and volatile organic compounds.

"The majority of harmful laboratory chemicals will show up under these kinds of tests," Zeleski said.

If any of the tests is positive, he said, the MDE and the health department could test other nearby properties or do further testing on those six sites.

Phillip Small, 59, died of pancreatic cancer Dec. 16, leaving in his basement a store of chemicals he

apparently had been saving to open a commercial laboratory some day.

About two weeks after his death, Small's wife Lorraine notified county authorities of the chemicals.

Small ran a business from his home testing water and septic systems, but most of the chemicals were not those he would have used in his business, said Walter Lee, the on-site coordinator for the EPA.

So far, officials said, there is no indication that Small broke any laws in keeping the chemicals in his home or that he disposed of them improperly.

Solveig Smith, zoning administrator for the county, said Small's business met the definition of a home occupation, which the county allows in residential zones. She said her office never received complaints about his business or the chemicals.

Removal of the chemicals began about two weeks ago. EPAworkers packed up to 1,000 bottles and other containers into about 75 large plastic drums. The disposal plant that takes the chemicals will probably burn them, Lee said.

Six small containers of explosives required particularly careful handling but did not entail theevacuation of the neighborhood, Nurse said.

Other chemicalsfound in the basement included low-level radioactive materials, corrosives, flammable gases and liquids, and reactives, Lee said. He saidmaterials appeared to be stored properly and were no more exotic than would be found in a college lab.

A list of the chemicals removed won't be available until this week at the earliest, said Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

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