County says it will pay to replace contaminated wells But offer depends on tests near Carrs Mill Landfill

February 19, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

An article in yesterday's Howard edition of The Sun incorrectly detailed steps taken by a neighbor of the Carrs Mill Landfill to improve her home's water system. The resident says she paid for a new water filtration system.

The Sun regrets the error.

County officials promised more than a dozen western Howard County residents last night that the local government will pay to replace wells contaminated by toxic chemicals dumped at Carrs Mill Landfill 20 years ago.

But the offer is dependent on ground water tests demonstrating that the wells are contaminated, said John O'Hara, chief of Howard's Bureau of Waste Management.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"The county's policy is if you have a private system installed because of the contamination, the county will pay," O'Hara said, adding that random tests in recent months have shown that the water in the area is safe for drinking.

The promise came during a meeting between 15 residents and representatives of the county Public Works and Health departments in a meeting at Glenwood Middle School to update residents on the nearly completed design phase of a project to seal the landfill.

Olga Rosser, who has lived on Bushy Park Road for 17 years, said she had to pay more than $3,000 to replace her backyard well with a new well and a water filtration system three years ago. The county has told her she is not eligible for reimbursement.

"The county is telling me that [the contamination is] not coming from the landfill; it's coming from nature," she said sarcastically.

O'Hara reminded Rosser that she replaced her well before county workers could validate her claims of contamination, but Rosser remained unconvinced.

"You can't prove that the stuff wasn't coming from the landfill," she said.

Gail Tarrico, who lives on 10 acres across the street from the landfill, said she fears she won't be able to sell her property in the future because of its contaminated water.

"We might be able to live on it and drink bottled water," she said. "Is the state responsible for this or is this an act of God?"

Since the 1950s, Carrs Mill had been a county-owned landfill. In 1976 -- a year before the landfill was closed -- an investigation there uncovered a shipment of toxic chemicals in 55-gallon drums.

During an operation to seal the landfill in September 1993, county officials unearthed more drums and began further digging. Almost 900 drums were found.

Ground water tests revealed concentrations of carcinogens exceeding federal drinking water standards. A project to remove 4,000 tons of contaminated soil cost the county $2.4 million.

Robert Isenberg, project manager for the new plan to seal the landfill, said a synthetic plastic called a flexible membrane liner would cover the main trenches of the landfill. A drainage net would be placed on top of the liner and covered with 30 inches of soil and 6 inches of topsoil, he said.

The area where the drums were found would have a similar cap, except 12 inches of clay would be laid down before the liner is put in place. A total of 8.15 acres would be sealed.

The county is also planning to install 14 pumping wells along the western and southern borders of the landfill to extract and clean any contaminated runoff, Isenberg said.

Work is scheduled to begin as early as this summer on the sealing project, which is expected to cost $2.7 million.

Pub Date: 2/19/97

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