Group Asks Court To Close Landfill

April 23, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

A coalition of residents who live near the Millersville Landfill asked the Circuit Court yesterday to order the county's largest trash facility closed.

In a complaint filed with the court late in the afternoon, the residents cited a list of grievances, including what theybelieve are violations of state environmental law. They asked that the county be ordered to "take whatever steps necessary to protect thehealth, welfare, and well-being of the community."

In particular, the suit asks that the county take "immediate steps to contain all hazards inside and outside the boundaries" of the Burns Crossing Road facility. The county should also "take responsibility for immediate and long-term supply of public water," according to the suit.

The complaint was filed by Thomas A. Fales Jr., representing the Citizens Action Committee To Close the Millersville Landfill. An exhibit with the lawsuit contained the names of 380 other plaintiffs, mostly residents who live in communities next to the facility.

A spokeswoman for the county Department of Utilities, which took over operation of the landfill last week, said county officials had not seen the complaint and would not comment.

Residents have complained that the landfill, which has been operated for the past 18 years by the county Department of Public Works, has chronically violated state environmental laws, including the landfill's operating permit anderosion-control laws.

The residents are particularly upset that the county has not moved faster to clean up residential wells near thelandfill that have been contaminated with pollutants similar to those found in two ground water monitoring wells at the center of the facility. Within the past three weeks, Health Department officials have found four wells polluted with tetrachloroethene, a toxic dry cleaning solvent, at levels exceeding federal drinking water standards.

County Executive Robert R. Neall responded to residents' concerns April 14, giving authority over the landfill to his "best trouble shooter," Department of Utilities Director Tom Neel. The Health Department has provided bottled water to the homes with contaminated wells. Neallhas promised to replace those wells if the county cannot find a source for the contaminants other than the landfill within 30 days.

"They have to give people more reassurance than, 'We're going to study this another 30 days,' " Fales said. "People are still washing in it.They're still bathing in it. These aren't jelly beans we're talking about. These are chemicals which can alter your health."

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