The Glen Burnie landfill was added yesterday to the list of hazardous sites to be cleaned up under the federal Superfund program, a move Anne Arundel officials say will cost taxpayers millions of dollars more than if the county and state were allowed to do the job on their own.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began looking at the 130-acre dump as a potential Superfund site in 1988 after learning that Diamond Shamrock's Baltimore plant had dumped 100 tons of inorganic solids, including toxic metal substances, there in the late 1970s.
The county has vigorously appealed the EPA's nomination, saying that the federal agency's system for ranking hazardous sites is obsolete and that the agency's involvement will only add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that will raise the cleanup costs.
Federal regulations require the owners of sites on the EPA's National Priorities List to conduct costly and exhaustive studies examining
every possible cleanup method, even if experts say the solution to the problem is obvious.
The county and state have been moving to clean the landfill at Dover Road and Ritchie Highway under a voluntary state consent order since last September.
The county had hoped to spend no more than $8 million to clean the ground water beneath the landfill.
County officials have said that to foot the entire cost of a Superfund cleanup would cost the county from $25 million to $37 million.
County Executive Robert R. Neall said he would consider appealing the federal agency's decision in U.S. District Court.
"I believe the county's agreement with the state's Department of Environment requires all the actions necessary to investigate and remedy any problem caused by the landfill," Mr. Neall said.
Steve LeGendre, an assistant county attorney who fought the EPA's decision on the county's behalf, said he thought the cleanup by local officials would be allowed to proceed during any appeal or further studies. He said he hoped the county could finish before the EPA was ready to work on the landfill.
"They have a tremendous number of sites on the list and a backlog of cases," Mr. LeGendre said. "They may end up letting us go ahead with our cleanup if we get far enough along."