Pond Explosions Safe, Army Says

January 05, 1992|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

The U.S. Army has reassured county officials that explosions in a 60-acre pond planned next to the Bush River will not threaten residential ground water supplies near Aberdeen Proving Ground.

But a community activist who sits on an APG environmental advisory panel worriesthat any further development in the area could change the quality ofthe Perryman aquifer that serves homes in the U.S. 40 corridor.

Helen Richick, a member of the Technical Review Committee that oversees plans to clean up polluted APG "Superfund" sites, said Thursday that she will ask Army, county and state officials for a meeting toexplore whether contamination from the base could affect drinking water.

"I definitely don't feel good about the Perryman well fields," she said. "It's time we look at this whole area and say maybe a moratorium is necessary."

Richick said she is concerned not so much with the pond project as with the commercial development under way andproposed for the area that might alter the course of underground waterways.

Robert J. Donald, who heads the county Department of Public Works' environmental affairs bureau, raised the same concerns last summer, when APG invited public comment on its proposed $22 million "superpond."

In a July 1 letter to APG, Donald wrote: "The county'smain concern with the project is that adequate consideration be given to the possibility that the test pond will facilitate the cross-contamination of groundwater aquifers around the Proving Ground."

Like Richick, Donald asked whether digging the 150-foot-deep pond could link poisoned subterranean waterways in the Edgewood area of APG withthe main base. The Bush River bisects the two areas of APG.

In a letter to Donald last month, APG officials provided studies that concluded: "There is no direct connection between the aquifers."

"It seems they've addressed everything," said Deputy County Attorney Jefferson Blomquist, Harford's liaison to APG.

He said the county will rely on state environmental officials to assess the pond's impact.

Paul O. Massicot, tidewater administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources, said last month that there were no "fatal flaws"in the project, pending review of an Army assessment of bald eagle activity in the area.

In a letter sent to Richick last month, APG also wrote that the aquifer beneath the pond site flows to the southeast, in the opposite direction of the Perryman wells serving the Aberdeen area.

Blomquist and an APG spokesman said that both the countyand the Army would support a summit on the Perryman aquifer.

Development in the area recently spurred the Harford Land Trust Inc. to identify a 125-acre forest along the Bush River as a tract it would like to preserve.

Major projects under construction in the Aberdeen-Perryman corridor include the Hickory Ridge Industrial Park, a CloroxCo. production and distribution center, and an expansion of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. plant.

With so many sites depending on the Perryman aquifer, Richick said the county might have to consider a building moratorium to preserve water supplies.

"Any land use onor off APG can affect the aquifer," she said. "It's the superpond along with all the other activity that has taken place in the past and will take place.

"We tend not to look at the big picture."

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