Gas station rejected after geologist notes pollution risk

March 14, 1997|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The Frederick County Planning Commission has rejected a proposed gas station near Mount Airy after a consulting geologist testified that spilled gasoline could quickly endanger underground water supplies.

Shell Oil Co.'s proposal to open a gas station, convenience store and carwash on Lakeview Drive south of the Interstate 70 interchange met strong opposition from residents at a hearing Wednesday. The debate focused on the fragility of rock underlying the site and the potential for contamination.

The 0.69-acre site is near Parrs Spring, headwaters of the South Branch of the Patapsco River, and adjacent to the watershed for one of the wells that supply Mount Airy's water.

"If we would have even one small spill at the Shell station, it goes into the fracture grid and quickly permeates itself throughout the ground water system," geologist Lynda Bell told the planning commission. She is working with a newly formed citizens group, the Parrs Ridge Conservation Association.

Bruce Norton, a consulting hydro-geologist for the Texas-based oil company, countered that he did not believe the site "has any unique features that would make it unsuitable for a service station."

The planning commission ruling to reject the request on the basis of "inadequate and inaccurate information" gives Shell the option of submitting a new application for the project.

Company representatives said Wednesday that the Mount Airy site was the only one they could find off I-70 between Baltimore and Frederick, a market they are eager to enter.

Shell representatives and environmentalists reported conflicting information about whether the Maryland Department of the Environment investigated the site.

MDE spokesman Quentin W. Banks said yesterday that an official from the agency had visited the property. Banks said MDE was waiting for a request from Frederick County government before getting involved.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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