Residents Near Landfill Raise Stink Over Expansion Plan

Protesters Say Water Contamination Was Predictable

April 14, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Protesting outside the Anne Arundel County landfill in Millersville yesterday, Michael Maszczenski's picket sign translated to, "I told you so."

Maszczenski, who owns one of two residential wells found contaminated over the weekend, opposed the landfill's construction 18 years ago. During a 1974 zoning hearing, he said he was afraid the 567-acre facility would pollute his well and surrounding ground water.

"All this time, I've been drinking this crummy water," he said, wearing a placard around his neck declaring, "Maszczenski was right in'74."

About 60 residents who live near the landfill picketed outside its main gate for two hours early yesterday morning as garbage trucks roared in and out. They want County Executive Robert R. Neall toclose the landfill immediately, test more residential wells, providefree access to public water for citizens with tainted wells and fireseveral top Public Works and Health department officials.

Neall, who began examining the landfill's management two weeks ago, is expected to announce a response tomorrow, said Louise Hayman, his press secretary.

Anger over the landfill began building last month when residents learned of county plans to extend the Burns Crossing Road facility's life by 25 years. The county developed the expansion plan three years ago, but residents say they were never told.

Then, last Friday, the county Health Department rushed bottled water to Maszczenski and another family in the 8300 block of New Cut Road after findingtetrachloroethene -- a toxic solvent used in household cleaners, glue and lubricants -- in their shallow wells.

Tetrachloroethene is one of the contaminants first found seven years ago in two ground-water monitoring wells at the center of the landfill. The chemical, whichhas been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals, also has been identified in a single monitoring well at the 167-acre Sudley Landfill in southern Anne Arundel.

Dale West, a New Cut Road resident, said she is furious the county found contaminants in the landfill's monitoring wells seven years ago but did not begin testing nearby residential wells until recently.

Neall, who met with residents April 1,has appeared more concerned with the landfill's chronic violations of erosion control laws than he has with potential well contamination,West said. To show their annoyance, protesters carried signs saying,"Mud kills fish -- Chemicals kill people."

The county executive, who ordered 32 residential wells tested two weeks ago, expanded the tests to include 12 additional wells when contaminants were found in the New Cut Road wells, Hayman said.

The county cannot prove the contaminants came from the landfill, Hayman said. County monitoring wells located around the perimeter of the facility -- and between it andresidents' wells -- show no signs of contamination.

However, the county will drill deeper wells for residents to replace those found contaminated, Hayman said. "We're not going to wait to find out if there is a connection," she said.

The county's state-issued permit tooperate the landfill expired in October 1989. The facility has remained open on an interim permit while regulators review the county's application to expand, said Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman John Goheen.

The county also has begun regrading three sections of the landfill without an approved erosion control plan.

"If we had waited to follow all the procedures before we did anything, wewould still be where we were in October 1989," said Richard Waesche,chief of the county's Bureau of Solid Waste, adding that the regulatory agencies have moved very slowly on the county's application.

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