County Accused Of Mismanagement At Millersville Landfill

Activist Cites Erosion And Sediment-control Problems

March 27, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Anne Arundel County, which has thrown the book at housing developersin recent years for violating erosion control laws, has begun regrading the Millersville landfill with a sediment control plan some experts consider outdated.

Although the county has a revised plan pending before the county Soil Conservation District, mud and silt are already polluting a Severn Run tributary that flows across the Burns Crossing Road facility, said Lina Vlavianos, an environmental activist appointed to the SCD's governing board last year.

Vlavianos, whose protests of the county's poor enforcement of erosion controls 10 years ago led to a reorganization of the county Department of Permits and Inspections, is calling on County Executive Robert R. Neall to conduct independent investigation into the managementof the landfill.

"Bob Neall has inherited a poorly run landfill,"said Vlavianos. "That's why I suggest a serious investigation into what's being done there."

The landfill has come under increased public scrutiny in the last three weeks after nearby residents learned of county plans to extend the life of the landfill until 2015 and about contaminants found in two monitoring wells at the center of the site.

County, state and federal officials will meet with the public at 7:30 p.m. April 1 in the Arundel Senior High School auditorium to answer neighboring residents' questions about the landfill, its expansion and the danger posed by the contaminants.

Vlavianos was a Millersville homemaker when she tracked a stream of flowing mud back to the Millersville landfill one 1984 morning. Presenting a bottle of themuddy water to the County Council, Vlavianos confronted then Solid Waste Chief Parker Andrews. At that time, Andrews promised better sediment controls would be installed, she recalled.

Those new controlsnever materialized, she said.

"The county executive should have an investigation into the landfill and not rely on the answers of the people running the landfill any longer," said Vlavianos. "We have been deceived. For 10 years, I have been deceived."

Sediment controlsused at the landfill were approved by the Soil Conservation Districtwhen the 580-acre trash facility opened in 1975. However, a MarylandDepartment of the Environment spokesman said the 17-year-old plan expired when the county began combining three mounds of trash into a single mound, or "cell," three years ago.

By combining three cells, the county is changing the site's topography, a factor that could lead to erosion, said MDE spokesman John Goheen. "The original assumptions (of the 1975 plan) are no longer in effect," he said.

MDE's Hazardous and Solid Waste Management Administration is charged with enforcing sediment laws at the landfill.

However, a conservationist atthe Soil Conservation District, which approves sediment control plans, said the county's 1975 plan still provides adequate protection forthe combination of the three cells -- at least, for now.

Jim Wist, a district conservationist assigned to the SCD from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the county is still working within the elevation, slopes and footprint outlined in the original plan. Eventually, the county will need a revised plan to raise the elevation of the combined cells to the 303 feet proposed by the county, he said.

When Wist toured the site Wednesday with county Solid Waste Chief Richard Waesche, the sediment traps and basins required under the old plan were still catching eroding soils.

Anne Sieling, a spokeswoman forParker Andrews, now director of the county Department of Public Works, said the county is operating under a sediment control plan approved by the Soil Conservation District last summer. However, she said she could not locate the document late yesterday afternoon, and Wist said he has no knowledge of the plan.

The problem at the landfill isthe management rather than the plan, Wist said. The landfill's operators leave too many slopes bare too long, allowing soil to erode, he said.

"They've had some sediment-control problems out there," Goheen said.

MDE issued a "site complaint" to Anne Arundel County lastDecember for failing to seed and mulch soil disturbed by earth-moving machines and left barren, Goheen said. Conditions had improved wheninspectors returned in February but remained questionable, he said.

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