Rubble fill cited for zoning violations

July 04, 1993|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Staff Writer

A state order that Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc. stop all surface mining prompted Harford County officials to investigate and cite the rubble landfill for zoning violations, an administration official said Friday.

The county also is looking into possible grading violations at the 55-acre rubble fill, said Jefferson L. Blomquist, deputy attorney for the county.

County zoning authorities have cited the rubble fill operator for mining outside the permitted area and for improper land filling, concrete reprocessing and top soil reprocessing, Mr. Blomquist said.

The Water Resources Administration of the state Department of Natural Resources issued its stop-work order on June 17 to John Spencer, owner of the rubble fill on Abingdon Road near Route 7 and Interstate 95.

The DNR complaint, signed by a Water Resources inspector, David Vodak, alleged that the perimeter of a 38-acre portion for which the owner holds a surface mining permit is not properly staked.

Such staking is required, the complaint said, as a condition for receiving the permit, which allows the permit holder to remove marketable materials such as sand, gravel and top soil.

The complaint also contended that the material was hauled off the site after being mined from outside the area designated by the surface mining permit.

The order allowed the rubble fill operator until July 17 to send a plan to the Water Resources Administration, detailing how the land would be restored where mining was allegedly conducted outside the permitted area.

The operator's plan also must include a timetable for the restoration.

County inspectors visit the rubble fill every two weeks and are continuing to monitor it for possible violations, Mr. Blomquist said.

Robert Cole, regional chief for the Water Resources Administration, said Friday that he believed mining had stopped at the Spencer rubble fill.

The June 17 stop-work order is the latest in a series of state and county actions against the rubble fill that neighbors and environmental officials have battled for years.

State environmental officials ordered the rubble fill in August to stop accepting waste, amid allegations that the operators had illegally expanded the site by about seven acres. But the mining operation was allowed to continue until the latest citation.

State records showed the rubble fill's operators had accepted too much waste and had not filed an updated topographic map, which indicates the height and slope of the rubble. Also, tests conducted by the Department of the Environment in June 1992 had revealed high levels of suspected carcinogens trichloroethylene and dichloroethylene in monitoring wells at the rubble fill. Those levels, agency officials had said, exceeded state and federal standards.

Records showed 1991 tests by the Department of the Environment had revealed that some monitoring wells contained three chemical pollutants: acetone, an ingredient in nail polish; toluene, an industrial solvent and gasoline additive; and chloroform, a solvent and general anesthetic.

State and county officials so far have prevented Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc. from accepting more debris.

But environmentalists still fear that recent mining there could cause contamination if any of the mined material is used as fill elsewhere.

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