NRC clears land for complex 31 acres will be used for recreation after cleanup of site

September 23, 1997|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has cleared 31 acres off East Ordnance Road in Glen Burnie for use as a recreation complex, after a multimillion-dollar cleanup of radioactive materials stored there during World War II.

The project signals the rebirth of the 84-acre site, which has been unusable since the Army abandoned it in the 1970s, leaving thorium nitrate that had leaked from storage barrels through the floors of warehouses and into the ground.

The thorium nitrate had been stored in granular form for potential use in a thorium-cycle nuclear reactor.

The Defense Logistics Agency cleaned up the former Army General Services Depot then, and the county took it over in 1981 because of its potential for economic development.

Early in his term as county executive, Robert R. Neall proposed using part of the property for a new county jail to ease crowding at the jail on Jennifer Road outside Annapolis.

His proposal raised new concerns about the site's former use.

The NRC re-examined the property in 1992 and applied more stringent health and safety standards.

After that examination, the NRC cleared 53 acres for unrestricted use but found that eight of 10 warehouses on the remaining 31 acres still contained low levels of thorium contamination.

The county demolished the warehouses where the thorium nitrate had been stored, and the Defense Logistics

Agency removed contaminated building materials and soil between July 1994 and October 1995.

Dominick A. Orlando, who supervised the cleanup for the NRC, said the agency had spent the past year reviewing the cleanup and that it approved public use of the acreage this year.

The $4.6 million recreational complex would include six lighted softball fields, a baseball field and a multipurpose field for soccer and other sports.

It also would include concession stands and restrooms.

Greenman-Pedersen Inc., a Laurel design and engineering business, is designing the first phase of the project, which will include building three of the six softball fields.

Construction could begin in late spring or early summer next year, said Jack T. Keene, chief of planning and construction for the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

It was not clear when construction would begin on the second phase of the project, which would include building the remaining three softball fields, the baseball field and the multipurpose field, Keene said.

Recreation officials hope the complex will help accommodate demand for athletic fields in the county.

"It's to relieve pressure countywide, though because of its location it may be used primarily by North County residents," Keene said.

Pub Date: 9/23/97

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