The county's Scarboro landfill is not the source of ground water contamination in the surrounding neighborhood, according to a consultant's report.
The finding was expected by both Harford officials and a resident who sued to force the study. But they drew opposite conclusions about what it means.
"This is no surprise to anybody who understands the technical issues," deputy county attorney Jeff Blomquist said.
"Guess what? It's not coming from the landfill. Isn't that surprising? EA Engineeringwas hired by the county to prove it's not coming from the landfill,"said Jocelyn Allen, a Dublin Road resident who sued the county in 1987 under federal laws governing pollution controls at municipal landfills.
EA Engineering, Science and Technology Inc., a Sparks firm, reported that ground water contaminated with non-toxic levels of benzene and other industrial solvents and coolants flows into the 128-acre landfill site, not from it.
The contamination around Allen's home in the area north of the garbage dump is "entirely unrelated to that of the landfill," said the report, which was released Friday. The consultant concluded that there must be "an alternative or an additivesource" of the pollution.
Blomquist said the finding supports thesafety of the county's ongoing expansion of Scarboro and a new proposal to build a 20-acre dump to accept bricks, tree stumps, brush and other construction rubble.
With no evidence that the landfill is harming ground water north of the site, the county has no further legal obligation under the court settlement it reached with Allen, Blomquist concluded.
He said the county will continue to monitor pollution south of the site, where drinking water has not been found to haveharmful levels of contamination.
"We're very disappointed in the county and their continuing effort not to respond to us," said Allen,who led a Scarboro-Dublin residents group in asking the County Council on Tuesday for blanket property tax relief.
The group argues that members' homes have lost value due to the landfill operation and the ground water pollution. The group is meeting with U.S. Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest tomorrow to ask the 1st District Republican tointervene with the county.
"Our property has basically been takenaway from us, and that's against the Constitution," said Allen, who moved to Dublin from Essex, Baltimore County, in 1896. "This community has basically been laid to waste to benefit the rest of the county."
Blomquist said the county will continue to press the Maryland Department of the Environment to investigate the source of water pollution north of Scarboro. He said underground gasoline storage tanks might be responsible.
The county has no power to inspect those sites,Blomquist said. But the state has a program designed to clean up oldand leaking storage tanks.
The county will continue to fight an Allen effort to win property tax relief.
"Her property is not at all impacted by the landfill site," Bloomquist said, because they are not immediate neighbors.
The county does not oppose property assessment appeals in the range of 10 percent to 20 percent filed by Scarboro's direct neighbors, he said. The noise and traffic at the dump justify some tax relief for those families, Blomquist said.
But Rick Williams, whose backyard abuts Scarboro, complained to the council that the county didn't notify area residents before construction of thenew garbage dump cells began.
"And now we're talking about a 20-acre rubble fill that would be instituted without a public hearing?" he asked.
The Department of Public Works is considering building a rubble dump to provide a reliable public alternative to private dumpsfor use by the county and private industry, county administrator Larry Klimovitz told the council.
"We just want a team of engineers to look at the site and see if it's feasible. Even if it's feasible, we may not do it. It's just an escape valve."
Staff writer Carol Bowers contributed to this report.