The Army plans to install a new seal on a closed sanitary landfill at Aberdeen Proving Ground that is contaminating ground water near a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
Proving ground officials have won tentative approval for their plans at the Michaelsville Landfill, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed on its Superfund list of hazardous waste cleanup sites in 1989.
Test wells at the site have found that seepage from the landfill has contaminated surrounding ground water with chromium, manganese, benzene and other hazardous materials.
The ground water feeds Romney Creek, which passes by the 20-acre landfill on its way to the bay.
The ground water pollution exceeds federal drinking water standards. But the landfill is roughly in the middle of the proving ground south of Aberdeen and is remote from sources of county or base drinkingwater supplies.
Further tests are planned to monitor whether the landfill threatens Romney Creek.
"If you have a good cap, that cansolve 98 percent of your problems," Michaelsville project chief Meran Desai said.
APG has already spent $125,000 installing 10 sumps to collect landfill contaminants that rainwater carries into the ground. The material is being drained into three 2,500-gallon tanks for further analysis.
The pumping will continue while the landfill is recapped, which would not begin before next March.
In the meantime, the Army will seek public response to its plans to re-cap the landfill, where trash from base homes and offices was buried between 1970 and 1980.
The project is expected to cost more than $9 million and require clearing away trees and shrubbery, leveling off the top of thelandfill and laying down layers made up of compacted soil, a plasticliner, sand, a fabric filter, top soil and new grass.
APG officials will report on the status of cleanup plans at Michaelsville and other sites Oct. 17 during an environmental forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Ring Factory Elementary School in Bel Air.
There are 13 separate study areas of 360 solid waste dumps and handling sites scattered across the Aberdeen and Edgewood areas of the proving ground.
Although Michaelsville is on the Superfund list, it does not pose the same sort of hazards as the Old O-Field mustard gas dump in the Edgewood area, Desai said.
Army officials believe Michaelsville collected only commonhousehold garbage and was not used as a toxic waste dump.
"The EPA had so many questions about where ground water flows and what were the contaminant possibilities and what is the effect on the aquifer,"Desai said. "The EPA decided that putting it on the (National Priority List) was the best way to get the questions answered."
Michaelsville was placed on the Superfund list automatically because it exceeded warning standards for ground water contamination and contaminant seepage, said Bruce Beach, a cleanup specialist at the EPA regional office in Philadelphia.
In contrast, O-Field would have made list simply because of the danger posed by the buried mustard gas.
Army officials announced last month that the EPA has given final approval on plans to pump out and treat ground water at O-Field, where mustardgas agent and other toxins have polluted Watson Creek, a Gunpowder River tributary.