More violations cited at proving ground HARFORD COUNTY

March 24, 1993|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Staff Writer

In the three weeks since the state fined Aberdeen Proving Ground for violations in the handling of hazardous waste, Maryland environmental inspectors have issued four complaints for similar violations, Army and state officials said yesterday.

"If I were the state, I'd be quite frustrated," Maj. Gen. Richard W. Tragemann, the proving ground commander, said yesterday at a monthly meeting on environmental issues attended by local and state officials.

"What does it take to get our attention?" the general asked. "Here we get a fine and still have problems -- precisely the same problems."

Harford County Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, who attended the meeting at the proving ground, said the recent complaints "amazed" her.

"I would hope they would take a hard look at all of this and find out why they are not able to comply" with hazardous-waste regulations, Mrs. Pierno said.

Army officials said the recent violations stem from storing waste in locations longer than allowed, failing to submit required documentation, shipping medical waste without the proper manifests, and improper handling of soil contaminated with cadmium, a hazardous metal.

The March 1 fine and the recent state complaints come amid three separate investigations into the proving ground's environmental-protection efforts. Two probes are being conducted by the Army and another by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

General Tragemann, the top officer at the 72,000-acre weapons-testing and research installation in Harford County, also reminded the commanders of the many Army organizations at the proving ground that managing hazardous waste is their responsibility. He said he was arranging more training in such matters for officers.

"Everyone needs to be an environmentalist," added Ken Stachiw, chief of the proving ground's environmental management division.

On March 1, the state Department of the Environment levied a $5,000 fine against the proving ground for violations in the management of potentially dangerous chemical waste over a three-year period. The action was the first environmental fine against a federal facility in Maryland and the first state environmental fine against an Army installation in the country.

The Federal Facilities Compliance Act, passed by Congress last year, gave states the authority to levy such fines.

The complaints since the fine are "further evidence of the need for persistence on the Army's part and on our part," said Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the state environment department.

Speaking of General Tragemann's remarks yesterday, Mr. Sullivan said, "Those words coming from the general are extremely encouraging. Those are good signs to us of the level of commitment that he is showing toward the environment."

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