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APG explains no-action plan for radiation site in Edgewood Area

Environmental PollutionU.S. ArmyU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyEnvironmental PoliticsAberdeen Proving Ground

During a mandatory public hearing Thursday night that drew little community interest, Aberdeen Proving Ground officials explained their proposal not to do any remedial action in an area where 17 small radioactive devices were found between 2009 and 2011.

The radioluminescent deck markers were found in the post's Edgewood Area and were used as low-level lights on the decks of Army ships, Allison O'Brien, Canal Creek Restoration Project manager, explained during the meeting held at the Ramada conference center in Edgewood. The markers contained small amounts of the radioactive isotope Radium-226.

A 2011 investigation found the deck markers' risk of causing cancer to either children or adults was not considered significant by Environmental Protection Agency standards. Elevated radiation levels at the site were originally found in 2008.

Prompted by Aberdeen City Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young, O'Brien noted the site, in the G-Street area of the Edgewood Area, is an industrial sector and would never be used for development like schools or playgrounds.

O'Brien said the deck markers were found on or near the surface of the one-acre site but soil was also sampled up to two feet below ground.

She said temporary fencing was installed 15 feet outside of the area where the markers were found to create a buffer zone while officials conducted a comprehensive radiation survey.

The Army recommends no action in regard to radiation clean-up, such as removing large amounts of soil and disposing it in a secure, controlled environment.

A 30-day public comment plan period on the Army's proposal began Feb. 16 and will run through March 18.

APG does have a history of serious environmental clean-up activities.

The Edgewood Area has been classified a federal Superfund Site by the EPA and is on the final National Priorities List of sites the EPA says have "known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories."

According to the Army fact sheet, the "G-Street Radiation Site," as the Army now refers to the area where the deck markers were found, is within the Canal Creek Study Area, one of the APG locations where there has been ongoing Superfund related cleanup operations.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Environmental PollutionU.S. ArmyU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyEnvironmental PoliticsAberdeen Proving Ground
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