Members of Aberdeen Proving Ground's environmental advisory committee say the army should gather more information before it launches any cleanup of a highly contaminated dump site on the Edgewood area.
Members of the group, the Technical Review Committee, are among five county residents who provided written comments on the army's plan to stop further contamination at the site, the Old O-Field dump.
The public comment period on the plan ended Aug. 17.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the O-Field on its Superfund list of the nation's most hazardous waste sites in February 1990.
The 4.5-acre O-Field was used in the 1940s and 1950s as a dump site for chemical warfare agents, munitions and other hazardous wastes from the proving ground's testing programs.
The army is expected to finish a report on their cleanup plan for the highly contaminated site later this month, said John Yaquiant, an APG spokesman. The citizen comments on the cleanup proposal, as well as the army's responses to those comments from the army, will be included in
Thearmy is developing a plan to prevent wastes buried in the O-Field from further contaminating Watson Creek, which flows into the GunpowderRiver, until technology is developed to clean up the dump. The Gunpowder flows into Chesapeake Bay.
The APG cleanup would involve diverting the aquifer from its northeasterly flow into the creek through a system of 14 wells. The water would be pumped from the wells through a treatment plant, where it would be decontaminated and discharged into either Watson Creek or Gunpowder River.
This would be a stopgap measure for the next three to five years, the army has said.
During that time, the army would study technology that might decontaminate the creek and remove toxins. The toxins include several heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium that have leaked through the landfill and poisoned an aquifer.
The APG plan would cost almost $1.9 millionto construct the pumping system and treatment plant and another $467,000 to operate annually.
In his written comments on the plan, Charles E. McKnight, a member of APG's environmental advisory committee,provided the army with suggestions for treating the water and capping the O-Field.
The Edgewood resident said that capping the dump with concrete and installing monitoring wells is one idea to be explored. This would be similar to the steps taken to clean up landfills, hewrote.
Water from the site also might be treated by running it through existing sewage treatment plants, including the one serving theEdgewood area of APG or Sod Run, the county's sewage plant near Perryman, McKnight said.
Helen Richick, another advisory committee member, said the army needs to consider air pollution that might be caused when treating the ground water at the O-Field.
"Air monitoring of the Old O-Field site is absolutely critical to ensure protection of APG employees, the local community and the environment," wrote Richick, who also is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Harford County, a citizens environmental group.
Deborah R. Wrobel, the other committee member sending in a written comment, said she is con
cernedthat the army's proposed plan to pump ground water from the O-Field would increase the flow of ground water and contaminate a larger portion of the aquifer.
Darlington resident Terry D. Stancill also sent in a written comment. He said the army needs to conduct more studies before treating the ground water so it can provide details on air pollution, sediment contamination, and the cleanup of the O-Field dump.
Joyce L. Bish, of Fallston wrote that the army and the government must be held accountable for the contamination at the O-Field, regardless of what steps are taken to treat the site.
"There are too many instances where the army and other government agencies have destroyed the environment with no thought of the consequences," Bish said in her letter.