Landfill waste removed from development site

August 15, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

A developer who is building more than 700 homes on Abingdon property that includes two closed landfills overcame the last obstacle to completing the project last week.

Nineteen 55-gallon drums containing material thought to be printer's ink were removed from the construction site Monday.

The drums were discovered Aug. 4 in a section of the former Johnson landfill, which operated as a rubble fill in the late 1970s and early 1980s. County records show that mostly tree stumps and dirt were deposited there.

Morris Wolf, an official of the Hidden Stream Development Corp. of Baltimore County, said contents of the drums are being tested by Clean Venture Inc., an environmental waste cleanup company also based in Baltimore County.

"I've been told [by the company] that final test results on the material will be available in a matter of days," Mr. Wolf said late last week.

The Hidden Stream subdivision will include 719 single-family houses, townhouses and condominiums and is being built on 137 acres on both sides of Old Philadelphia Road, near Abingdon Road.

The project, submitted to county planners in June 1988, will have public water and sewer services.

James Terrell, Harford County's chief of Department of Emergency Operations, said that he was notified of the drums and that an inspector was sent to the site.

He said the report, prepared by Clarence Ross, found that Clean Venture personnel were present and that adequate precautions had been followed.

The drums were wrapped to prevent leaking, and about 25 cubic yards of soil surrounding them was tested for contamination.

Mr. Wolf, a Baltimore County resident, is also developing Bynum Overlook, a 67-acre subdivision of 97 homes in Abingdon. He said that the discovery of the drums will not delay construction, adding that the area where the drums were found is not scheduled for development until next spring.

The county Health Department required Hidden Stream Development Corp. to conduct various tests, including monitoring wells and taking soil samples, to determine what materials were buried at the landfills and whether they were hazardous.

The landfills, off Old Philadelphia Road, were used illegally in the 1970s and 1980s, but it is not known what materials were dumped at the site.

The county found out about one of the dumps, known as the Moore landfill, in 1986, after receiving several complaints from citizens.

The Hidden Stream community is across the street from a third landfill, which appears on the federal Superfund list of hazardous waste sites that pose a threat to human health, according to maps at the planning office.

A March 1991 study by environmental consulting firm Geo-Technology Associates Inc. of Bel Air concluded that there were no "significant" on-site contaminants.

Ground-water samples met most state standards for drinking water, although four test wells contained slightly higher than acceptable amounts of heavy metals, such as barium, chromium and lead.

The Geo-Technology study also found that the ground water contains minor levels of several volatile organic compounds, including toluene and xylene, but the readings were well below the acceptable maximum limits established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Volatile organic compounds are combinations of chemicals that can be hazardous, causing nausea, skin rash and other irritations.

Geo-Technology noted that ground water in the Abingdon area flows eastward, away from the Hidden Stream site. The Superfund site is east of Hidden Stream.

The county Department of Public Works said the Superfund site should not cause problems for the development, because the subdivision will be on the public water system.

The county attached several conditions to its approval of the site, including a requirement that the developer notify potential buyers of its proximity to the Superfund site.

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