Landfill cleanup doubted

October 25, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Michael Maszczenski learned Friday he can drink his water again.

But, he wonders, for how long? Especially with 1,200 tons of trash being dumped every day at the Millersville Landfill next door.

Landfill officials spent millions of dollars this summer constructing a new environmentally safe disposal area and bringing the Burns Crossing Road facility into compliance with state law.

The county began diverting all the trash entering the 567-acre site into a plastic-lined cell Wednesday, said Faye Scheibe, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Utilities. The liner prevents pollutants from seeping into the ground water, she said.

But Mr. Maszczenski remains unconvinced. Anne Arundel County rushed bottled water to his and three neighbors' homes -- all adjacent to the landfill -- last April after health officials detected chemicals common to industrial and household cleaners in their wells.

Because the contaminants were similar to those found in monitoring wells at the center of the landfill, the county spent $25,000 digging new, deeper wells for all four families. A county investigation into the source of the contamination was inconclusive.

Mr. Maszczenski, a New Cut Road resident, is the last of the four to receive an official notice certifying that the water from his new well meets federal drinking water standards. It arrived in the mail Friday.

"I have no confidence that it will stay that way, because the dump is still there," said Mr. Maszczenski, 66. "They haven't done anything except cosmetic work. They didn't do anything to treat the water down there."

Ms. Scheibe said the county will hire a consultant early next year to engineer the cleanup of the four oldest of the facility's eight disposal areas. She said the project will involve constructing impermeable caps over the trash to prevent rain from washing pollutants into the ground, as well as treatment of the contaminated water below.

The county expects to hire a second consultant within 12 to 18 months to engineer the cleanup of the three cells closed last week, Ms. Scheibe said. The county needs that much time to regrade the slopes of those cells to comply with state law, she said. The height of the three cells, dubbed "Mount Trashmore," will not exceed 245 feet, she said.

"I don't want to build false expectations," Ms. Scheibe said. "It will take a long time."

Because the county had fallen nearly three years behind in complying, the Maryland Department of the Environment in April ordered the three unprotected cells closed and the plastic-lined cell opened within five months.

MDE spokesman John Goheen said Friday that the county has brought the landfill into compliance.

"The centerpiece of the state order was to get the county into a lined cell," he said. "It is."

The liner cost $10 million. The county also has spent more than $2.7 million on other improvements at the site.

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