Homes near landfill due bottled water

October 27, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

The state Department of the Environment has ordered bottled water for four households whose wells near Fort Meade's active landfill are contaminated.

This brings to five the number of households outside the landfill west of Odenton whose private wells are tainted, according to tests done on 13 wells in September and this month.

Atrazine, a herbicide, registered at above federal safety limits in the first well and was found in three other wells. Perchlorethylene, a solvent, was found in the fourth well, but MDE is skeptical of that result and will retest the well, said agency spokeswoman Sandra Palmer.

"We think the sample was contaminated by a garden hose," she said.

The latest results come as the state and the military prepare to speak to a community gathering at 7 tonight at Arundel Middle School.

Del. Marsha G. Perry, whose district includes Odenton, has asked state environmental officials to give the community an update on testing and cleanup plans for Fort Meade's landfills.

In addition to the active landfill, a closed clean fill dump is west of Woodwardville.

Ms. Perry, a Democrat, said she wants to know where the contamination is coming from, where it is heading and at what speed the poisoned water is moving underground.

Fort Meade officials say the landfills are not the source of atrazine, a broadleaf weed killer.

"We do not have any records that we ever used atrazine," said Don McClow, a spokesman for the post.

Records go back to 1979.

Though the post agreed to reimburse the first family for bottled water, the household has not given officials any receipts, Mr. McClow said.

"That was a good neighbor gesture," he said.

Post officials have been talking with state environmental officials about getting the Department of the Environment take over the reimbursements.

The agency has not yet identified the source of the contamination. This may be difficult to do because other industrial and waste operations are in the area. The military agreed to pay for any cleanup that can be attributed to Fort Meade.

The active sanitary landfill opened in 1958. The clean fill dump was used from 1972 to 1985.

No one knows how long the landfills have been leaking, but a 1992 Army report identified them as potential sources of pollution. The military has not explained why it took no action until last month.

Fort Meade has had a history of problems involving the handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

This summer, the state Department of the Environment fined the base $10,000 for 82 counts of improper hazardous waste management dating back to 1989.

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