State tells egg distributor to clean up tainted water

December 22, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

The state has ordered Steger's Maryland Fresh Eggs in Hampstead to begin treating water contaminated by diesel fuel that leaked from an underground storage tank.

The spill, discovered during routine testing by the company in September 1992, is confined to Steger's property near Route 30 and Hampstead-Mexico Road (Route 482), Maryland Department of the Environment spokeswoman Linda Harris said yesterday.

Company officials immediately informed MDE after discovering the spill and, in December 1992, removed the 10,000-gallon tank used to fuel company trucks, she said. The tank was about 10 years old, Ms. Harris said.

Steger's, established in the 1940s, packs eggs produced primarily at County Fair Farms in Silver Run and distributes them throughout Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and Washington.

Evan Fogerty, the company's marketing manager, did not return phone calls to his office yesterday.

"We had them shut down the entire system," Ms. Harris said in detailing MDE's response to the spill. "With underground storage tanks, leaks are not uncommon. Hundreds of sites are doing this on a daily basis."

Ms. Harris said state regulations require underground storage tanks to be inspected, upgraded or replaced by 1998.

Hampstead wells near Steger's property are being tested and are not contaminated by the spill, she said.

Two of the four monitoring wells on the Steger property have tested positive for diesel fuel, Ms. Harris said.

"The [neighboring] residential wells are [uphill] from the spill location," she said. "We're not that concerned about that one. Our geologist from the oil contamination section and her supervisor said there isn't any threat to the [residential] wells."

Steger's officials dug one monitoring well in February and three more were added in November, Ms. Harris said.

November was the first time Hampstead officials heard about the spill, said Town Manager John Riley. Carroll County's Health Department notified the town after receiving a request from MDE to dig the last set of wells.

"Our main concern was that we were not in the communication loop early," Mr. Riley said. "Our thoughts were, since we're in the town of Hampstead where the spill occurred, we should have been made aware so we could offer any information we had right away, rather than a year later."

When representatives from Hampstead officially met with the MDE and Steger's on Dec. 13, town officials offered three town wells for testing, Mr. Riley said.

The wells, about 2,000 feet across Hampstead-Mexico Road from Steger's in the Shiloh Run housing development, are not hooked up to the town water supply, he said.

L MDE has not taken Hampstead up on the offer, Mr. Riley said.

"We are now in the loop of communications," he said. "We appreciate that and we've offered any help or data we have available to the department."

In addition to installing a system to clean contamination from the ground water, Steger's must dig three more monitoring wells, build a retrieval system for the contaminated water and regularly send water samples to MDE for analysis, Ms. Harris said.

A contractor, chosen from a list of MDE sources, will plan and oversee the project, Ms. Harris said.

She did not know which was working with Steger's.

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