BFI landfill leaks hazardous waste, consultant says

November 02, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Cancer-causing solvents have leaked from a hazardous waste landfill off Solley Road and crossed Marley Neck Boulevard to a point about 1,650 feet from Marley Creek, according to the landfill owner's consultant.

The creek, closed to swimming for more than two decades due to other pollution, flows into Chesapeake Bay.

The consultant, Summit Environmental Consultants Inc. of Auburn, Maine, issued a map dated Oct. 21 showing that an underground stream of water polluted with volatile organic chemicals had seeped past the landfill's boundaries. Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), the landfill owner, has made several attempts to control the stream.

The map was based on well samplings taken Oct. 10 and 11. A Summit representative referred questions to Browning-Ferris, but a BFI spokesman declined to comment, saying that he had not seen the map.

The spokesman suggested that the map may relate to a $100 million lawsuit filed against the waste-hauling giant by the man who owns the the adjacent property and who wants to develop a 738-home community there. S. John Blumenthal of Baltimore sued the Houston-based company in September, claiming that it violated an agreement not to contaminate his property.

Test wells drilled on Mr. Blumenthal's property last summer indicated that an underground plume containing trichloroethene (TCE) was moving from the BFI landfill. The map confirms his earlier suspicions, Mr. Blumenthal said yesterday.

The drinking water standard for TCE is 5 parts per billion (ppb). Symbols on the map show 6.4 ppb on Mr. Blumenthal's land and 830 ppb nearby on the BFI property. "I don't think they still know the full extent of the plume," Mr. Blumenthal said.

"Well, they are going to have to get it cleaned up. They've just taken too much time," said state Del. Joan Cadden, whose District 31 includes the problem-laden site. "MDE is just going to have to do something. . . . I'm very frustrated by the whole thing."

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) had said that the water was moving at a rate of about 10 to 20 feet a year, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency placed the flow at about 100 feet a year.

BFI began operating the site as a state-permitted hazardous waste landfill in 1977. The landfill operator was cited several times by state environmental officials over accepting waste not allowed under its permit, allowing illegal night dumping and illegally disposing of liquid waste that would threaten ground water.

The landfill was closed in 1982 but has been leaking; its cap is coming apart; and efforts to purify the underground stream have failed. This week, BFI gave MDE an analysis of options for dealing with the ground water. State environmental officials said they will review it.

BFI had devised a system to pump up to 144,000 gallons a day of contaminated ground water, clean it, and return it to the ground through three reinjection wells. But the reinjection portion failed. State officials have asked the company to fix that system, said Jeffrey Rein, MDE project manager for wastewater discharge permits.

"I think we have figured out a way to make it work," said Peter Block, a BFI spokesman. Neither the company nor MDE would release a copy of BFI's analysis of its options.

When the injection system failed this spring, BFI sought to discharge the treated water into an intermittent stream that leads to Marley Creek, infuriating nearby residents. State law bans the discharge even of clean water into an intermittent stream if other means of disposing of the water is available.

The company has been trucking the water away, but wants to stop the costly process. Opponents want BFI to continue hauling the water away. "I don't know if that's reasonable," Mr. Rein said.

Anne Arundel County has fought off the suggestion that it should take the water into its sewage system.

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