County Broke Environmental Laws In Scarboro Landfill

October 27, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

The county has been violating state sediment-control laws aimed at protecting streams and rivers from soil pollution in its preparation of new cells to hold garbage at the Scarboro Landfill, the county's central dump located near Dublin.

Harford County violated state environmental laws by excavating at the landfill without an approved sediment-control plan or appropriate perimeter controls, such as fences, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment.

"We do know they did, in fact, begin without a sediment-control plan, and as yet they do not have one," said John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment. "However, we haven't detected any sign of sediment pollution."

Scarboro Landfill lies within the Deer Creek watershed.

Goheen said the county has been ordered to file a sediment-control plan and has erected perimeter controlsas instructed by state officials, but the county has not been fined.He also said the county has not been ordered to stop work to date because of the violation.

"We take sediment control very seriously,"said Goheen. "Aquatic life depends on clean water. Sediment plays havoc with water quality and prevents photosynthesis. But we're trying to work with the county."

Goheen said state inspectors visited thesite Thursday, but information about the outcome of that visit was not yet available.

William T. Baker Jr., deputy director of the county Department of Public Works for the engineering division, confirmed Friday that state inspectors visited Scarboro Thursday.

"No, we do not have an official grading permit," said Baker, who on Nov. 1 will become acting director of the department following the departure of Robert Williamson, who resigned for health reasons. "I signed the application today."

Baker said the sediment-control approvals, and the grading permit to change contours of the site, should have been obtained by DPW's division of environmental affairs when design on thenew landfill cells was completed. Baker said he did not know why thepaperwork was not done.

Through George Harrison, a spokesman for the county administration, Williamson said he had "no comment" on thematter.

Baker said the county proceeded with grading and excavating work at the site despite the lack of paperwork "because we have anurgent need."

"The landfill capacity is running out faster than programmed," said Baker. "The construction has to be done."

DPW records show an average of 7,000 tons of garbage deposited each month atScarboro. Without the new cells, the landfill's existing capacity would be exhausted in November 1992, DPW records show.

"The state inspectors are satisfied we didn't pollute the environment. If we were having environmental problems up there, that would be a different story, but we're not. We had three inches of rain the other day, and no material left the site," said Baker.

"We are doing everything we can to expedite the paperwork. We're trying to keep the public good inmind."

Baker said that when the county encounters a developer violating sediment control laws, "we work with them, just as the state is working with us.

"We don't go in and say, 'Mr. Developer, you'vegot a beautiful site, and you're doing a great job but you haven't crossed your T's and dotted your I's. We don't order them to shut down. We work with them."

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