In-depth Study Of Contamination Is Urged At Abingdon Rubble Fill

March 29, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

A company that wants to expand an Abingdon rubble fill should be required to conduct a thorough environmental study of the site, a geologist and county administrators argued last week.

The study is needed to determine the source and extent of contamination at the Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc.'s Abingdon site, they told state Department of theEnvironment officials at a meeting Thursday.

Samples taken last September from two test wells at the Spencer site, located along both sides of Abingdon Road, contained high levelsof trichloroethene, according to state records. The chemical is a cancer-causing solvent.

"(The samples) are an indication of ground-water contamination," said Wayne Fox, a Havre de Grace geologist.

"There is a lot of potential for the contamination that is present to reach drinking water supplies."

Deputy County Attorney Jefferson L. Blomquist gave MDE a letter from County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann saying the environmental study is needed to assure that private wells, streams and wetlands are free of contaminants from the Spencer site.

The study also should provide a "risk assessment" of any discovered contaminants and outline ways any problems can be corrected, Rehrmann said. She noted that the study would be similar to ones the county conducts at its Scarboro Landfill near Dublin.

Howard Sims, the MDE project manager reviewing the Spencer plans, told Fox and Blomquist that the department would consider requiring the study.

Spencer will be required to provide the state with bi-annual tests of ground water and surface water from its site, he said.

Spencer spokesman William Geary said the company wants to maintain a good relationship with neighbors and county administrators.

"I understand the controversy," Geary said. "If people would come down to talk to us, we have an open-door policy."

Spencer is seeking a state permit to expand its rubble-fill operations by 10 acres on the east side of Abingdon Road.

The company, which has operated since the late 1970s, has a total of 51 acres for its rubble-fill operations.

Thursday's meeting between state, county and Spencer representatives was part of the Environment Department's routine review of the company's permit application.

In September, state tests found that levels of trichloroethene totaled 88 parts per billion in one well on the east side ofthe Spencer site and 7 parts per billion in a well on the west side,records show. The state's maximum level for the chemical compound is5.

James Humphreville, a Spencer consultant, said another test well located 15 feet from the eastern well showed no traces of the chemical compound.

The consultant added that the eastern test sample was not taken from ground water. Instead, it was taken from clay that separates surface soil from the bedrock and aquifer, he said.

However, according to a March 9 memo by Woody Williams, a supervising sanitarian at the Harford Department of Health, the contamination in theclay may reach the aquifer.

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