Tipton Airport to come off cleanup list

County officials hail EPA decision, see move as an economic boost

September 23, 1999|By Claudia Assis | Claudia Assis,CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to remove Tipton Airport from the Superfund cleanup list, a step that Anne Arundel County officials say is crucial to their operation of the airfield.

The EPA's announcement Friday makes possible an Oct. 1 celebration by county officials, who plan to fly into the former Fort Meade airport to mark its opening to private aircraft.

"Not being a part of the Superfund will make it much easier" to operate Tipton from technical and marketing standpoints, said Sam Minnitte, assistant to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. "It is crucial to take Tipton off."

The county signed a 25-year lease in May to operate Tipton, and the deed will be officially transferred from the Army in January, Minnitte said.

When it reopens, Tipton will be the county's first public general aviation airport. Besides reducing private plane traffic at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Tipton could help generate business for Anne Arundel, county officials hope.

The county has spent $300,000 on repairs at Tipton. Officials expect the airport to be self-supporting within three to five years.

The airfield has four hangars and a 3,000-foot runway, said manager Michael Wassel. It will have room for up to 300 single- and twin-engine airplanes, and the Tipton Airport Authority expects it to be home to at least 100 aircraft within its first year.

Wassel said the 346-acre airport will operate only during the day at first, but within six months the county expects to provide airfield lights and fuel stations.

The EPA's Richard Kuhn said Tipton is the first portion of Fort Meade that the agency has proposed removing from the National Priorities List, better known as the Superfund list, of the country's top hazardous-waste cleanup priorities. The EPA put Fort Meade on the Superfund list in July 1998.

The EPA, the Army and the Maryland Department of the Environment worked together to clean up Tipton, where they found debris, drums of hazardous waste and 3,000 pieces of buried ordnance, such as shell casings, among other problems. In addition, two inactive landfills were covered as part of the cleanup.

"This is very good news for the community surrounding Tipton. I want to congratulate the Army for its diligence in working with the EPA to clean up this site," U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin said.

EPA's notice of its intention to delete Tipton from the Superfund list is open to public comment until Oct. 18, after which the agency will have up to 60 days to respond to any comments and issue a notice of final deletion from the list. Information about the proposed EPA action is available at the Provinces library branch in Severn and the Army's Directorate of Public Works at Fort Meade.

On Oct. 1, the first private plane will land at Tipton carrying the county executive and officials from the airport authority.

"A county our size requires this avenue of transportation," said Minnitte.

Pub Date: 9/23/99

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