Toxic cleanup postponed at former Army depot

August 31, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Cleanup of a radioactive material at a former Army depot in Glen Burnie will not begin until after the New Year, more than six months later than previously anticipated, an official with the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency said yesterday.

Federal officials still are reviewing the rough draft of a plan to remove soil contaminated with thorium nitrate, a granular material used by some types of nuclear reactors, from the 85-acre site on New Ordnance Road with an eye toward lowering the cost to Anne Arundel County and federal governments, said Kevin Reilly, project manager for the Defense Logistics Agency.

0$ Meanwhile, county and federal of

ficials also are negotiating how much each will pay toward the cleanup and are devising ways to supply workers with electricity and get heavy equipment to and from the site, which has no power source and can be reached only on small service roads.

Anne Arundel purchased the site 12 years ago from the government to encourage economic development in the area. Last year, County Executive Robert R. Neall's plan to build a 650-bed jail on the site was defeated in part by the discovery of the contaminated soil.

"I've only got a little, tiny bit of radioactive material in the dirt so I don't need the Rolls-Royce" of cleanup plans, Mr. Reilly said. "But I have a very interested public looking on, so I need a #F Cadillac at least."

Mr. Reilly said he will not have a "realistic" estimate of the cost until a consultant prepares a final report.

But county spokeswoman Louise Hayman said estimates have ranged from $1 million to $3 million.

RTC Although Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a 1st District Republican, reported last winter that the work would be done by June, Mr. Reilly said much planning remains before the dirt is removed.

Rust Remediation, the private consulting firm preparing the plan, could complete the final draft by October, but the plan then must be reviewed and approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mr. Reilly said.

Because the county owns the property, the federal government has asked that it pay for the demolition of nine dilapidated warehouses, which sit above the contaminated ground, and the disposal of asbestos paneling within the buildings.

County officials said last winter that the federal government, which gave the site a "clean bill of health" before the sale, should bear the burden. But county officials said they will move forward with the demolition and ask the federal government

reimburse them later.

"Everybody is working together to get this done," Mr. Reilly said.

The county will advertise for its own contractor next month to determine if it can save money on the demolition of the contaminated buildings and 10 other warehouses on the site, Ms. Hayman said.

Radioactive thorium nitrate that was stored in the warehouses ,, dissolved and leaked through corroded barrels into the ground, causing the contamination.

The NRC had declared the property free of contamination after the General Services Administration removed parts of the warehouses that registered radioactivity. But the ground was never checked because the NRC had not established guidelines for radiation in soil.

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