Landfill neighbors complain to Ecker

December 17, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Neighbors of the toxic dump site at Carrs Mill Landfill in Woodbine last night told County Executive Charles I. Ecker that more needs to be done to protect them from chemicals that have polluted a local stream and underground aquifers.

Tests of residential wells need to be done more often, more accurately, and air near neighboring homes should be monitored, the residents said at a meeting at which they were brought up to date on cleanup efforts at the landfill.

Cleanup workers have unearthed at least 462 55-gallon drums on the site. At least $700,000 has been spent on the cleanup.

Consultants said about half the drums were damaged and empty, and about a tenth were full. Test results from fewer than an eighth of the drums show they contain trichloroethelyne, or TCE. TCE has been listed as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because it has caused cancer in laboratory animals.

Many residents said they feared that more harm than good is coming from the cleanup effort, which started Oct. 14.

"I can go up to my bridge and stand and smell the drums," said Susan M. Miller, who lives across Carrs Mill Road from the cleanup site.

Consultants from GeoTrans, the environmental firm that is supervising the cleanup, said they did not believe there was any health risk outside the cleanup site from evaporated solvents.

Mr. Ecker, however, asked Public Works Department officials and county environmental consultants to use gas monitoring equipment at the site near Ms. Miller's home.

Ms. Miller said she had hired an environmental consultant, who had judged tests of residential wells performed by the county Health Department to be suspect.

She said the company, E2Si of Baltimore, questioned the method used to collect samples and health authorities' dismissal of solvents found in a neighbor's well as "laboratory contaminants."

The Health Department has maintained that there have been no confirmed instances of contamination in residential water.

While the laboratory that analyzed samples for the Health Department sent county officials a letter saying that the chemicals acetone and methylene chloride had been contaminating specimen containers, it said nothing about trichloroethane, or TCA, which was found in minute traces in the neighbor's well.

The principal contaminant found in ground-water monitoring wells has been TCE. The EPA drinking water standard for TCE is 5 parts per billion, and the grease-cutting agent has been found in ground water below the landfill at more than 3,000 parts per billion.

Knowing that, Frank Pesce, who lives in the Foxport subdivision on Bushey Park Road, asked: "Isn't it prudent that you give [the closest residents] bottled water?"

Mr. Ecker responded that the county does not believe there is a danger in drinking the water but will continue to test wells and consider different ways of testing residential wells.

The cleanup effort is continuing at a cost to the county of about $40,000 a week. The contractor, Clean Venture Inc. of Linthicum, is expected to remove the first load of drums by the end of this month.

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