Engineer claims Crofton rubble landfill didn't pollute residents disagree WEST COUNTY--Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

December 10, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

An engineer with Cunningham Excavation Inc. testifie yesterday that pollutants from the company's rubble landfill near Crofton have never contaminated ground water, a claim that neighbors have challenged.

John T. Marshall, an engineering consultant to Cunningham, told the county Board of Appeals that if contaminants did seep through the landfill, they could not penetrate a naturally occurring layer of clay, up to 30 feet thick at some points, that lies between it and the largest pockets of ground water, known as aquifers.

"There has been no indication of any pollution," said Mr. Marshall, noting that test wells had been dug and the site monitored for nearly a decade.

Cunningham is seeking special zoning exceptions to expand a sand and gravel mining operation and rubble landfill into a new area of its 184-acre site at Route 3 and Capital Raceway Road. Groups of residents from neighboring Odenton, Gambrills and Crofton communities oppose the expansion.

Cunningham's engineers and owner James Edward Cunningham testified before the board for three hours yesterday, before their attorney concluded their presentation. Opponents are to testify at a hearing set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2.

After the board had recessed, Norman G. Meyers, president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association, said the state found two chemicals -- dichlorofluoromethane and vinyl chloride -- in one of the monitoring wells on at least two occasions.

He offered as evidence a May 27, 1992 letter from the Maryland Department of the Environment to Cunningham officials and a Sept. 17, 1991 sampling report that showed those chemicals were found there.

DCDFM is used as a refrigerator coolant. Vinyl chloride, used in ++ plastics, is highly toxic and is known to cause liver damage, skin irritation, blood disorders and cancer.

The levels of vinyl chloride found in samples this spring were more than 12 times the federal drinking water standard, according to the Citizen's Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes. The Greater Gambrills Improvement Association has sought advice from the Virginia-based group.

"All the documents I have refuted most of the testimony I heard today," Mr. Meyers said.

Asked about the discrepancy, Mr. Marshall said he had not been involved with the Cunningham operation since he helped it obtain its original special exception in the early 1980s.

"There were no problems up to that point," he said.

Mr. Cunningham said the contaminants came from a glue used to repair a broken pipe in that particular monitoring well.

"Then it [the glue] showed up as a hazardous waste," he said.

Mr. Meyers remained skeptical.

"This is not the only violation," he said. "Do they use glue month after month?"

Before yesterday's proceedings, Cunningham attorney Michael Roblyer withdrew a request to rezone an adjacent, 15-acre parcel for use in the landfill and mining operations. He also dropped a bid to reduce the amount of fencing and screening required around the landfill.

Mr. Roblyer said Cunningham officials had reached a lengthy agreement with residents of the Four Seasons subdivision, the neighborhood that is closest and most affected by the operation.

Mr. Roblyer said Cunningham has agreed to fence the entire perimeter of the landfill, to construct a 30-foot earthen berm and plant up to eight rows of pine, maple and oak trees along the boundary to shield neighbors from the operation.

Mr. Cunningham estimated that the work would cost more than $300,000.

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