The state has approved a plan by Black & Decker US Inc. to clean ground water behind its plant here, possibly starting this summer.

Black & Decker will pay for the cleanup, said Linda Biagioni, director of environmental affairs at the company's Towson headquarters.

The company submitted its plan to the state Department of the Environment in December 1989 and had been waiting for the agency to review and act on it, Biagioni said.

While investigating gasoline tank leakage from another Hampstead business in 1984, the Department of the Environment found contamination in a production well behind Black & Decker. Contamination was also found in a well on an adjacentdairy farm belonging to the Leister family and used for their animals, said John Goheen, environment department spokesman.

The contamination was not gasoline, but other organic compounds traced to industrial solvents used by Black & Decker, Goheen said.

Goheen said testing by the state over the past few years traced the contamination to underground storage tanks for industrial solvent on Black & Decker's 150-acre property. Those tanks have since been removed or emptied, he said.

The company suspects the leaks originate in underground tanks, Biagioni said.

"We have a suspicion of what we think may have caused it, but I don't think anybody can determine for certain," she said. "This is something that occurred over a long period of time."

Both the plant and the farm had charcoal filtersinstalled that year, Goheen said. Biagioni said the contaminated ground water comes from an area separate from one that supplies drinkingwater to the company.

Biagioni said the company is taking full responsibility for any contamination on its property. Goheen saidthe cleanup will include the entire "plume," or pattern of spread, of the contamination. That means the contaminated ground water on the Leister farm also will be cleaned, he said.

State environment administrators found the contamination while investigating gasolineleakage from Eagle Oil Co. Inc. of Westminster. Eagle Oil operated the Exxon gas station on Main Street in Hampstead.

The state found gasoline contamination of town drinking water seven years ago after the gasoline leaked from underground storage tanks at the Exxon station.

A plan was approved last summer to pump and clean the town's water using an "air stripper," which uses air to clean the dissolved gasoline out of the water.

A similar device will be used by Black & Decker or whomever it hires for the cleanup, Goheensaid.

The Black & Decker cleanup includes:

* Removing some contaminated soil.

* Treating soil with heat to break down the compounds.

* Pumping ground water and running itthrough the air stripper machine. The machine causes the solvents toescape, in the form of a gas, into the air.

Biagioni said the company has not yet estimated how much the cleanup will cost or how long it will take.

Although Black & Decker is paying for the cleanup and will be responsible for hiring a company to do it, thestate environment department will continue to monitor the progress, Goheen said.

"They won't stop the cleanup process until we're satisfied," Goheen said. "It's our project also."

Goheen said the department has incurred some expense in early testing of the area to track down the source of the contamination. He said the moneyto pay for that came from the state's Superfund, which is separate from the federal Superfund.

Generally, he said, the state tries to recoup those costs from the responsible parties later.

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