Every month since 1997, a Roaring Spring truck has dropped off nine 5-gallon bottles of Pennsylvania spring water, courtesy of Fort Detrick.
"It's not a bad deal," says Richey, 52, who lives with his wife and two adult children. "My main worry is you still have to wash your clothes in the [tap] water, you take a shower in it, you brush your teeth in it."
Maryland's 149 military properties - from postage-stamp ordnance depots to colossal troop training bases like Fort Meade - were once turbines of the state's economy. At their peak, during World War II, Fort Meade employed nearly 70,000 people and Aberdeen Proving Ground more than 30,000.
But as priorities shifted after the Cold War, Congress began shutting bases across the country and slashing military payrolls. In Maryland, 47 of the original 149 defense properties remain active. And eight of those are preparing to close.
The military launched its cleanup program in 1975. Congress toughened and broadened it in 1986, ordering the Pentagon to abide by the same cleanup standards as the nation's worst industrial polluters.
Cleanups were a growing priority in the 1980s as the military prepared to turn over closed bases to local governments and developers for reuse as parks, schools and subdivisions. But by the early 1990s, Congress was losing patience with the pace of cleanups, a concern that still troubles some lawmakers today.
"Go to any military post and it is contaminated beyond belief," says U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and the chairman from 1981 to 1994 of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees hazardous-waste laws.
"They don't know how to deal with it, they don't have any disposition to deal with it" he adds. "They give general evidence of not giving a damn about the situation."
In the 1990s, the Pentagon took steps to improve, adopting a formula to rank sites so that the worst risks to health and the environment were cleaned up first. But to clean up those sites, the military has to know about them.
"I am troubled by situations like Spring Valley," says DuBois, of the Pentagon. "But to again be perfectly blunt, I suspect there are other Spring Valleys in this country. It's a big country."
What passed for waste disposal in the days before environmental laws would make most people today cringe. Cans of degreasing solvents were toted out of buildings and dumped into the ground. Workers got rid of chemical warfare agents meant to choke, nauseate or blister an enemy by burning and then burying them in unlined trenches near waterways. The dumps went by names - "riot control burning pit" and "VX burning pit" - that seem drawn from the netherworld.
"We buried stuff - all sorts of stuff," says Kenneth P. Stachiw, the environmental chief at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where a $741 million cleanup is expected to last into the 2030s. "Bombs, trucks, animal carcasses, radioactive materials, bombs that had chlorine gas in them - you name it, it's there."
Officials at Maryland military bases say that despite efforts to catalog likely sites of pollution through archival records, aerial photographs and interviews with retired workers, the historical record is riddled with holes. Many retirees have moved or died. And the memories of those still around have dimmed.
In the late 1980s, Gary R. Nemeth led one of the first efforts to map pollution at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He offered retired workers anonymity in exchange for details of where they buried waste, but still had to deal with the absence of good records to confirm or rebut their accounts.
"Hey, people put something in the back of a truck and they go out and dump it somewhere - there's no documentation of that," says Nemeth, an environmental engineer at the base from 1976 to 1993. "It's a puzzle to pull together."
And not everyone in the know wanted to tell. Shawn Jorgensen, the environmental engineer at the Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center, says that in the 1980s former workers resisted saying anything that could be construed as self-incriminating. "People were going to jail for releasing chemicals," Jorgensen says of penalties for environmental crimes gaining publicity in the 1980s. "A lot were just nervous and perhaps scared to say anything."
Further complicating matters is the volatility of military waste. In 1994, officials at Aberdeen Proving Ground told congressional investigators that the risk of contact with buried explosives and chemical agents "severely restricted" their ability to size up the scope of pollution.
Other cleanup officials note tensions between their responsibility to the environment and the agenda of the base commander. At the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Bayly E. Smith Jr., the chief cleanup official, has rushed to deal with polluted areas that the base commander wants for helicopter operations, fuel storage, and a national guard facility. But those areas do not necessarily pose the highest risk to health or the environment.