At Fort Meade, making best of a bad situation Superfund: Anne Arundel didn't relish designation, but it will speed cleanup at Army base in transition.

July 25, 1998

THE INCLUSION of Fort George G. Meade in the Environmental Protection Agency's list of Superfund sites is no honor. The designation won't advance Anne Arundel County's efforts to remake the installation into a park for business and government offices. Yet, the post in western Anne Arundel may be better off with the EPA supervising its decade-long cleanup.

As a Superfund site, Fort Meade rises on the Army's list of installations to be cleaned up. The Army has already identified contaminated areas on the 5,415-acre installation. The designation should prompt a speedier remediation of landfills that contain ammunition, artillery shells, pesticides, solvents, 33 fuels and other toxics.

The EPA, long aware of Fort Meade's contamination, apparently decided to step in because of concerns about ground water pollution.

The county should find that the damage to Fort Meade's image as a business will be transitory. The contaminated sites are well-identified and contained.

Government agencies -- including EPA laboratories and the Library of Congress -- are scheduled to move into buildings on the post.

These organizations knew of the contamination and decided the advantages of locating at Fort Meade, well-situated midway between Washington and Baltimore, outweighed potential problems associated with the chemical and munition dumps.

The Superfund designation could affect the county's conversion the 366-acre Tipton Airfield into a general aviation field. Solvents, fuel and lubricants have been dumped into the soil. The removal of the contaminated soil could disrupt the airfield's scheduled opening next year.

Overcoming the stigma of a Superfund designation is not impossible.

It requires a candid marketing campaign that acknowledges the problem but also points out that contamination will be removed. Most potential tenants prefer a sound location to one where the cleanup continues indefinitely.

Pub Date: 7/25/98

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