Webster Residents Ask State To Delay Fill-permit Review

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

Webster residents opposed to a proposed dump for asbestos and rubbleare asking the state to suspend its permit review of the project.

They contend the developer has not provided the state accurate information on the aquifer which provides area residents with water.

The Concerned Citizens of Eastern Harford County wrote a letter to Robert Perciasepe, the new secretary of the state Department of theEnvironment, on Feb. 25 outlining their concerns.

"The proposed rubble landfill is clearly in noncompliance with specific regulations and with the intent of the regulations to protect the environment of the citizens of this state," Wayne A. Fox, spokesman for the citizensgroup, said in the letter.

Maryland Reclamation Associates Inc., of Churchville, wants to develop the rubble fill at a 68-acre site onGravel Hill Road near Webster. The DOE is in the last phase of its review of the project.

Randall M. Lutz, a Baltimore lawyer representing Maryland Reclamation, dismissed the residents' concerns.

"They keep making these allegations and I have yet to see any proof," Lutz said. "They're looking for any excuse they can not to have this rubble fill."

Fox, a geologist who lives near the rubble fill site, said Maryland Reclamation does not fully identify several water wells,ponds and springs at or near the site in reports to the DOE.

Fox said he based his information on his own studies and a 1988 state study of water tables and soil on a property near the proposed rubble fill site.

Until the Maryland Reclamation reports are corrected, thestate should suspend its review of the rubble fill plans, Fox said.

Lutz said the company's study of the aquifer at the project site are sound and show nearby residents' wells would not be adversely affected by the dump.

Fox contends that the elevation of an aquifer atthe site is "much higher" than Maryland Reclamation claims in its reports.

Fox, in his letter, did not specify the how much higher theaquifer is compared to Maryland Reclamation's report.

An aquifer is a layer of porous rock or sand containing water into which a well can be sunk.

Also in the letter, the citizens' group stressed concerns that excavation for the rubble fill would rob wells of water.

The residents say many of the private wells around the rubble fill site are interconnected.

Fox contended in the letter that ground water would seep into the "cells" of the rubble fill where debris is buried, mix in with well water supplies and possibly contaminate drinking water.

Maryland Reclamation representatives have said that the rubble fill would not accept hazardous materials such as chemicals.

The rubble fill would accept debris from land-clearing, construction and demolition projects. Asbestos -- handled by specially-trained crews -- would be kept in a separate, fenced-in area at the site, Maryland Reclamation representatives have said.

Fox contends that monitoring wells, designed to check the quality of the ground water at the site, will not adequately protect water supplies because the designfor those wells are based on insufficient information.

Fox and the citizens' group contend that Maryland Reclamation did not fully consider the complex nature of the aquifer when designing the monitoringwells.

Lutz, the company lawyer, responded, "From an environmental point of view, this is probably the best-planned rubble fill in thestate. . . . Maryland Reclamation intends to do whatever is necessary to make this a safe site."

But in their letter the citizens' group criticized Maryland Reclamation's plan to establish an escrow account to pay for providing water to area residents if wells were to dryup or become contaminated because of the rubble fill.

Fox, notingthat the aquifer is the only source of water for nearby residents, called the company's plan a "Band-aid approach."

"One goal of environmental considerations of the 1980s and 1990s is to design waste sites which will not adversely affect the environment," Fox wrote. "MRA's proposal to fix anticipated environmental problems after they occurtakes this community back to the environmental Stone Age."

The state is expected to decide whether to grant Maryland Reclamation a permit for the rubble fill by late March, but a public hearing will be conducted before that decision is made. A date for the hearing has notbeen set.

Even if the state grants the permit, Maryland Reclamation will not be able to start operations at the 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.

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