Webster-area Residents Fear Rubble Fill Could Contaminate Their Drinking Water

February 03, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Residents opposed to a proposed asbestos and rubble fill near Havre de Grace told state officials last week that the dump might disrupt their water supplies.

The residents also expressed concern that debris buried at Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc.'s proposed rubblefill on Gravel Hill Road will contaminate their water supplies.

"We're convinced that there is going to be de-watering at the site," said Wayne A. Fox, a geologist who lives near the rubble fill site. "That's one of our big concerns."

Fox voiced his concerns during state Department of the Environment review Tuesday of Maryland Reclamation's request for a routine state permit needed for such a facility.

Maryland Reclamation President Richard Schafer of Churchville brought a team of lawyers and consultants to outline his company's plans.

Six Webster-area residents opposed to the rubble fill -- Fox, Winifred and Herbert Jonas, Ronald Bishop, Sylvia Hutsell and Richard Lottero -- also attended the meeting.

Fox said many of the private wells around the rubble fill site are connected. Once excavation at the rubble fill starts, he said, there may be less water for residents.

Fox added that water would seep into the "cells" of therubble fill where debris is buried, mix in with water supplies and possibly contaminate drinking wells.

"It takes so little contamination to cause a big problem," Fox said.

But Maryland Reclamation officials dismissed the concerns.

"We don't agree that there is going to be any de-watering at the site," said Randall M. Lutz, a Baltimore attorney representing the company.

John L. Wirth, a BelAir engineer working for Maryland Reclamation, noted that the rubblefill would accept no hazardous materials, including chemicals.

The rubble fill would accept debris from land-clearing, construction and demolition projects, Wirth said. Asbestos -- handled by speciallytrained crews -- would be kept in a separate, fenced-in area at the site.

Maryland Reclamation also would hold tires and appliances that will be picked up and recycled by the county, Wirth said.

But in case water supplies were decreased or contaminated, Maryland Reclamation has established an escrow account to provide water to nearby residents, according to the company's application.

Howard Sims, a DOE geologist reviewing Maryland Reclamation's application, said hewants details on how Maryland Reclamation will provide residents with water if problems are discovered and how quickly the company will act to provide the water.

Wirth said Maryland Reclamation is willing to work with the public to insure that water supplies are maintained.

"It's not to (the company's) advantage for people to get sick," he said."

The state has 60 days to decide whether to grant Maryland Reclamation a permit, but a public hearing will be conductedbefore deciding.

Even if the permit is granted, Maryland Reclamation will not be able to start operations at the 68-acre site until a suit in the state Court of Special Appeals is settled.

The County Council and seven residents who live near the rubble fill site are asking the state court to overturn a Harford Circuit Court ruling that cleared the way for Maryland Reclamation to seek a state permit.

The council and residents did not request a delay in the review of Maryland Reclamation's permit application during their appeal, so the company's plans are proceeding through the state environment department.

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