Group alleges Bartlett violated pollution laws

October 03, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

A national environmental group yesterday accused 6th District congressional candidate Roscoe Bartlett of providing tenants with contaminated drinking water at a boarding house he owns in Frederick.

The Clean Water Action group alleged yesterday that Mr. Bartlett "knowingly" violated state pollution and health laws at the boarding house, which is located on his Gayfield Manor estate.

Mr. Bartlett, the GOP candidate, ignored state orders to clean up contaminated water from wells on his property that provided the drinking water to his tenants, according to state and county documents produced by Clean Water Action.

Tests from the wells showed traces of nitrate above safe drinking levels and also fecal matter contamination, the documents say.

Tenants were urged to boil any water used for drinking or cooking.

Mr. Bartlett attempted to circumvent regulations by dividing the use of his wells into two separate water systems for residents, the group alleged at a news conference at the Carroll County Courthouse.

However, Mr. Bartlett complied with the regulations by drilling another well in September 1991 after being threatened with legal action. No traces of contaminants were found in the new well, the documents said.

"This kind of blatant disregard for sensible environmental laws is exactly the kind of reckless action that has contributed to the destruction of our environment," said John Kabler, the group's regional director.

James Lafferty, communications director for the Bartlett campaign, said Mr. Bartlett disagreed with the findings of the state Department of the Environment and those of a private laboratory that tested the wells that served the Bartlett family and tenants on their land.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bartlett "took an approved course of action to correct the state's concerns" and in the interim, he told his family and his tenants about those concerns, and offered them water from a well approved by the state and bottled water, Mr. Lafferty said.

Clean Water Action is concerned about Mr. Bartlett's record, Mr. Kabler said, because if he is elected to Congress he will vote on national water pollution, toxic waste and other environmental laws.

"Mr. Bartlett cannot even be trusted with his own land. How can he be trusted to protect Maryland's or the nation's natural resources?" Mr. Kabler said.

Mr. Kabler said the group, which has 175,000 members in Maryland, has endorsed Mr. Bartlett's opponent, state Del. Thomas Hattery, the Democratic candidate.

Mr. Lafferty said the group is being "used by Mr. Hattery to strike a new depth in dirty campaigning -- taking it to a depth much greater than any of Mr. Bartlett's wells."

"If these people are serious about reducing fecal matter they will take a long look at Mr. Hattery's attacks on Roscoe Bartlett and Congresswomen [Beverly] Byron," Mr. Lafferty said.

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