Maryland environmental officials gave their stamp of approval to Aberdeen Proving Ground yesterday, five years after disclosures of widespread Army violations of hazardous waste standards at the base.
The Department of the Environment announced that the research base is in full compliance with a 1988 state consent agreement that expired last month.
The agreement required the Army to meet state standards for the storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous material, establish a training program for waste handlers and regularly report on compliance to state environmental officials.
"The consent judgment contributed substantially to the solution of long-standing environmental problems at Aberdeen Proving Ground that posed risks to the Chesapeake Bay and the citizens of the state," environmental Secretary Robert Perciasepe said.
The agreement followed a 15-month state study of more than 1,000 buildings on the post, where the Army tests and develops weapons. State environmental officials reported 89 sites that were not in compliance in February 1988.
Most of the problems involved storage of hazardous wastes. But a 1986 state inspection revealed a history of dumping sludge from Aberdeen's sewage treatment plants and ash from its hazardous waste incinerator at two post landfills.
The review followed a 1986 investigation by The Sun that reported environmental and safety violations at Aberdeen's chemical weapons research plant, known as the "pilot plant."
Equipment from the closed plant has been removed and decontaminated. But the building -- on Canal Creek in the Edgewood area of the base -- is among hundreds of problem areas that landed the base on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of hazardous waste sites.
"Things have changed dramatically at APG since the equipment was removed and they closed the pilot plant," Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann said.
The Army is developing a plan to clean the base by 2010.
Estimates of the cost to decontaminate equipment, soil, ground water and creeks exceed $800 million.
The Army spends about $2 million annually to stay in compliance with state and federal hazardous waste standards, base spokesman John Yaquaint said.