Contaminants Found In Ground Water Under Sudley

April 10, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Contamination exceeding federal drinking water standards have been found in ground water beneath the Sudley Landfill in South County, a state environmental spokesman said yesterday.

The contaminants -- volatile organic chemicals commonly used in household paints, degreasers, wax and varnish -- are similar to those discovered at two test wells at the Millersville Landfill, whose management recently has come under scrutiny by nearby residents and County Executive Robert R. Neall.

Vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethene were found in one of nine ground water monitoring wells located at the South County facility last December, said John Goheen, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment.

But Richard Waesche, chief of the county's Bureau of Solid Waste, said the well contamination atthe Sudley-Nutwell Road site is not cause for alarm.

A range of volatile organic chemicals has been detected periodically in well "G-1," Waesche said. But only tetrachloroethene has consistently exceededthe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards for drinking water, he said. Contaminants have not been detected in the other eight wells, he added.

Like the Millersville Landfill, Sudley is being redesigned to incorporate safeguards such as impermeable liners that would trap pollutants before they could seep into the ground water. Animpermeable cap would be placed over older sections as well to prevent rain from seeping through the trash, picking up pollutants and carrying them into the ground water, Waesche said.

Unlike Millersville, the redesign is not expected to extend the life of Sudley, he said.

Residents who live near the Burns Crossing Road facility are angry that the county plans to create additional capacity there and extend its life by 25 years. Neall is expected to hold a press conferenceWednesday morning, announcing the results of his investigation into the operation of the Millersville landfill.

South County residentsopposed Sudley Landfill when it was proposed, for fear that it wouldcontaminate ground water and Tracy's Creek, which runs through the property before dumping into Herring Bay.

"Our fear was no matter what they said about sealing it, it wouldn't matter," said Charles Tucker, of the South County-based Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association. "And it didn't. They have had trouble with pollution in the water."

At 166 acres, Sudley Landfill is the smaller of the two facilities, taking less than 15 percent of the county's refuse. If the county meets its recycling goals, the 10-year-old landfill will be full by 2006, said public works spokeswoman Anne Sieling.

A redesigned Millersville Landfill, which encompasses 567 acres, would reach its capacity in 2017, she said. At its completion, Millersville will have cost more than $100 million; Sudley, $30 million.

State regulators say the management of Sudley is better than Millersville, in part because it is smaller and easier to maintain.

However, the MDE did cite the county for erosion control violations at Sudley last spring. In particular, county workers repeatedly failed to seed or mulchsoil disturbed by earth-movers and left barren. Goheen said sedimentand erosion controls have improved, but additional improvements can be made.

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