Washington Vetoes Planned Epa Lab At Annapolis

February 07, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

An Environmental Protection Agency laboratory proposed for Anne Arundel County has fallen victim to President Bush's budget ax.

The $42 million chemical analysis laboratory would have merged research facilities in Annapolis and Beltsville, said a spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration.

The GSA unveiled a proposal Jan. 16 for a 160,000-square-foot facility on 15 to 20 acres near Annapolis. But the Office of Management and Budget "red-lined" the project last week, said John Thompson, GSA's business and public affairs director for the mid-Atlantic region.

The project could be resurrected next year, he said.

Thompson said the EPA is outgrowing the Environmental Science Center on Bestgate Road, which investigates hazardous waste sites throughout Maryland and surrounding states, and its Analytical Chemical Laboratory at thefederal Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville.

The 11-year-old Annapolis laboratory, which was built to house 55 scientists and support staff, now accommodates 98 employees, said Jim Newsom, the EPA's deputy assistant regional administrator in Philadelphia. The 30,000-square-foot laboratory sits on 4 1/2 acres, within sight of the Annapolis Mall.

Some EPA employees, including the Annapolis field office, have spilled over to offices at the Sovran Building on Riva Road, Newsom said.

The Beltsville facility, which tests and monitors new pesticides and other products, employs about 25.

Although the GSA pitched a combined replacement facility to the Office of Management and Budget, Newsom said EPA officials are still studying the feasibility of combining the laboratories' separate functions. "One could work off the other, but the EPA has not made a final decision," he said.

EPA officials have considered replacing the Annapolis laboratory for the past two years. The lease there expires in 1995.

No sitehas been selected for the replacement laboratory, which will be within 15 miles of the existing lab, Newsom said. Annapolis is centrally located within the region, which includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Delaware, he said. The agency also wants to avoid relocating the technical staff.

Newsom said the project is more expensive than an ordinary office building because "we're looking at a verysophisticated facility. You need a very controlled environment -- a very clean environment -- to do your chemical analysis."

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