Neighbors pleased by APG decision

Army gives up plan to put asbestos plant on base

February 13, 2005|By Andrew G. Sherwood | Andrew G. Sherwood,SUN STAFF

Magnolia resident Bob Dillon, who lives about 1,500 feet from a site that had been proposed for an asbestos disposal plant, was overjoyed at Thursday's decision by the Army not to place the plant at the Aberdeen Proving Ground after all.

"I couldn't believe it," Dillon said. "Things actually turned out right for the little guy."

Dillon said he and other residents were afraid the chemicals used on the asbestos could pollute the area's water. They were also concerned about transportation and storage of the asbestos, he said.

The Army planned to enlarge an existing plant used in 1996 and 1997 to collect asbestos from military installations in surrounding states and reduce it to nonhazardous material that could be taken to a landfill.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat who represents the area and who opposed the Army proposal, released a statement saying: "I am pleased that the Army listened to our concerns. An asbestos disposal plant has no place in the middle of Harford County, where thousands of families live. I believe this process should be completed in a less-populated area."

Judy Blomquist, president of Friends of Harford County, an organization that monitors environmental issues in the county, said she believed the decision not to expand the plant at the Harford base was wise.

"No matter how safe the plant would be," she said, "we just didn't think it was a good idea for this area."

Dillon and Blomquist described their efforts at getting the word out about the plant as "a big project."

Experts on white lung disease were brought in, letters were mailed to county residents, and Blomquist's group asked that an economic impact study be done by the Army.

"An EIS takes a long time, and I never heard anything else about it from the Army," she said.

County Councilman Dion F. Guthrie, a Democrat representing Joppa and Edgewood, said residents voiced their opposition at the five meetings held to discuss the plant.

"Many of the residents were upset about the transport of the material," he said. "The asbestos was going to be moved in trucks."

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