Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

May 25, 2006

Four teenagers rescued from island in reservoir

Four teenagers stranded on an island in a north county reservoir were rescued, county fire and state officials said yesterday.

About 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, authorities were notified that James Rome, 18, of Finksburg, Brandon Stromberg, 18, Trevor Miller, 18, and Joe Burley, 18, all of Hampstead, were fishing in the Prettyboy Reservoir in an aluminum canoe when the canoe's motor lost power, said Sgt. Ken Turner, a state Department of Natural Resources official.

The teenagers, who did not have paddles, were forced to guide the boat to a nearby island with their hands, Turner said.

"The paddle is not required by law, but it's required by the law of common sense," Turner said.

Officials said one teen was able to use his cell phone to notify authorities that the group was lost. County police officials saw the group during an aerial search, said Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the county Fire Department. They were not injured, she said.

Turner said Rome, the operator of the boat, was fined $105 for not having life preservers on board for each passenger. Rome also received a warning for not having a sound-producing device.

Nick Shields


School's well water being tested

State officials say they are testing well water at a Baltimore County school, an ambulance station and some homes after finding a toxic gasoline additive in groundwater beneath the closed Parkton landfill.

A twice-yearly sampling of a monitoring well at the former county landfill recently detected 26 parts per billion of methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, said Herbert Meade of the Maryland Department of the Environment. The state's "action level" for MTBE is 20 parts per billion.

Meade said this is the first time that MTBE has been detected in groundwater at the landfill, though it also has shown up in liquid leaching out of the former refuse repository. The landfill operated from 1978 to 1982, accepting shredded trash processed at the county's recycling center in Cockeysville.

Tests are now being taken to verify the MTBE reading at the landfill, Meade said, and to sample wells of homes within a quarter of a mile of the facility, along with wells serving the 7th District Elementary School and an emergency medical services station. Meade said previous checks of those wells had found no evidence of MTBE.

"We're scratching our heads a little bit," Meade said, when asked about possible sources.

He said previous sampling has shown road salt in the well in question, which could mean it is susceptible to fouling by contaminated runoff from the nearby highway.

MTBE has been added to gasoline since the early 1990s to make it burn more cleanly, but it is now being phased out because of its tendency to get into groundwater and contaminate wells. MTBE has caused cancer in laboratory animals, though its effect on humans is unknown at the low levels typically found in wells.

Timothy B. Wheeler


School dedicates memorial garden

Hereford Middle School will dedicate a garden today to the memory of six former students who died during this school year.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. in the school's front garden, 712 Corbett Road, Monkton.

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