Bird River Tackles APG ToxinsLeaders of the Bird River...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 09, 1994

Bird River Tackles APG Toxins

Leaders of the Bird River Community Association are questioning whether past chemical testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground is causing the contaminated water and lesions on fish in their area.

At a meeting which Del. E. Farrell Maddox, D-6th, convened at Oliver Beach Elementary School, they tried to sort through a flow of government words, paper and transparencies. Since this was a meeting for community leaders only, I made sure I was there, and I want to share some of my concerns.

"If it doesn't come off the [Army] post, then it's not your problem," Robert Dickover of Baltimore County Chemical Stockpile Emergency Management Office told area leaders who are worried about hazards at Grace's Quarters and Carroll Island. But even the federal government concedes that the Army is no longer exempted by its national defense mission from environmental accountability. Two Superfund sites have been designated for clean-up at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Community leaders reflected the concerns of their neighbors about the impact of old sins by the Army and other possible sources against the area's water, soil and animals. However, the absence of the scheduled speaker, Eric May, coordinator of fish health studies for the state Department of Natural Resources, hampered access to key information about damage to fish and (( water. Also, Aberdeen Proving Ground speaker Donald Green was missing from the contacts list distributed, even though he was the source of facts about contamination of 10 area wells by polluted ground water.

The information presented in handouts was not designed to clarify all the facts. Army scientists performed tests of ground water. Their list of metals and organics named only the substances which were not detected. To review these materials one is forced to play, "What's missing from this picture?" to deduce that elevated levels of PCBs and chlordane were detected in the water.

Cutting through the charts and words, citizens raised important questions: What will be done about contamination, and how long will it take? Donald Green noted that it can take 20 years to pump out and treat contaminated ground water.

Clean-up won't even begin until these stages are completed: remedial investigation, feasibility study, proposed plan, public comment period and record of decision.

Harford countians have raised similar concerns. . . .

As the technology for detection of harmful effects on living things improves, ground water contamination is undergoing an extensive redefining process. The good news is that more contaminants are being identified and removed. The bad news is that this process slows down clean-up orders.

Baltimore County citizens are part of the solution. Their observations of local waters and the condition of the crabs, clams, white perch and snapping turtles in the area are important, and the government must be accountable to them. Their concerns are honest, their questions are fair. . . . They care about the cost of clean-up, too.

Many came away from the meeting last month wondering if they had asked the right questions and ferreted out the important facts. They and all citizens should have more chances to do so. But no one wants the process of asking questions to delay or hamper the action of cleaning up the environment.

I am running for Congress to represent the 2nd District, which includes the Bird River neighborhoods and the Aberdeen Proving Ground. I intend to make sure that the comment-gathering process fosters action.

!Barbara Osborn Kreamer

Aberdeen

'I Dood It'

When are we going to get it right?

When are we going to face up to the real problem? . . .

Some years ago, when Red Skelton was at his peak, he regularly presented a skit on TV entitled, "the bad little kid."

Every week the "bad little kid" was faced with some tempting opportunity to get himself in trouble. He faced that temptation by saying, "If I dood it, I will get a whipping . . . I dood it."

Last month, a man with no conscience boarded a Long Island commuter train and deliberately emptied two clips of 9mm bullets into the defenseless passengers. You know the results -- at least five dead, and a score wounded before the criminal could be overcome by three of the passengers.

The shooter had obtained his handgun legally in California weeks before. He met the residency requirements and the long waiting period. Everything legal -- he had no "record" and gave no evidence of "imbalance" or of his racial hatred. A number of "experts" have gone on record saying that there was nothing that would be done to prevent these kind of violent attacks.

I say that this is another cop-out. More double-talk. The state of New York has no death penalty and the record clearly shows that most of the authorities in the country -- be they judges, juries, governors, etc., have no stomach for terminal punishment.

It is a fact that the violent criminal can plan his crime -- unlike the "bad little kid" -- without fear of appropriate punishment.

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