State seeks action on landfill violations

Penalties threatened over Hernwood, Eastern sites

county denies charges

July 30, 2004|By Adam M. Rosen and Seth Rosen | Adam M. Rosen and Seth Rosen,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Department of the Environment is seeking a $50,000 penalty from Baltimore County for repeated violations of environmental laws at the Hernwood Sanitary Landfill, state officials say.

The department also is threatening penalties of up to $170,000 to resolve long-standing water pollution, sediment control and solid waste violations at Eastern Sanitary Landfill, officials say.

"These are serious environmental issues that have not been adequately addressed by Baltimore County in a timely way," said Kendl P. Philbrick, the secretary of the environment. "We are looking forward to working with Baltimore County to reach agreement on a consent order that will document performance dates toward solving these landfill problems quickly."

Edward C. Adams, director of the county Department of Public Works, issued a statement yesterday saying, "Baltimore County is moving forward to address a number of environmental issues, including sediment and erosion problems at the Eastern Sanitary Landfill."

But he disputed some of the state's chronology and said the county "looks forward to setting the record straight on the county's actions to date."

Adams said the state "is aware that Public Works is investing more than half a million dollars in upgrades to the Eastern Sanitary Landfill this year and has been stockpiling capping material at the Hernwood site, in addition to other good faith measures to comply with environmental regulations."

Hernwood, near Randallstown, was closed in 1982. Despite agreeing to cap the landfill in 1988, the county has not done so, state officials said.

A landfill is capped by covering the top with a nonporous material that is designed to keep rainwater and runoff from seeping into the refuse.

In October 2002, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $10 million loan to the county to cap the northern part of the landfill, but after nearly two years the county has not submitted plans for closing and capping it, the state contended.

Adams disputed this, saying that "over the years [the state] realized we have been making progress and have been maintaining our landfills." In addition, David Fidler, spokesman for the county Department of Public Works, said that the county has a tentative plan to begin working on the landfill next spring.

A consent agreement between the MDE and the county has been proposed for the Eastern Landfill, near White Marsh. In a series of inspections last year, the MDE found that leachate was leaking from the landfill.

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