Spurred by worried North County residents, County Executive Robert R. Neall yesterday was investigating reports that hazardous wastes maybe buried at a proposed jail site in Glen Burnie.
Neall staffers were checking reports, which surfaced at a Monday County Council hearing on the jail, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified more than 22,000 barrels of radioactive waste once buried at thesite, said Walter Chitwood, county assistant chief administrative officer.
The 85-acre property, on New Ordnance Road just south of the Baltimore Beltway, used to be an Army munitions depot.
Hours before Brooklyn Park resident David W. Schramek told the council about the 22,000 barrels, a Gaithersburg consultant hired by the county released areport giving the site a clean bill of health. Woodward-Clyde Consultants said it found no buried munitions and no contaminants in eithersoil or water samples.
Chitwood said two earlier environmental reports also deemed the property safe. "If 22,000 55-gallon drums were there, I would think when you randomly selected testing sites you would have bumped into them."
Chitwood suspects reports of buried wastes or munitions pertain to a nearby tract still owned by the U.S. Army General Services Administration. That tract surrounds the proposedjail site, bought by the county in 1981 after the Army declared it surplus.
Though possible contamination heads citizens' list of concerns, the noisy crowd made it clear those attending the hearing generally oppose a 650-bed jail. As the industrial center of Anne Arundel,North County should not have to deal with another unwanted facility,citizens said.
"It's simply immoral for the northern area of the county to get all the waste and other parts of the county to get all the desserts," said Lola Hand, president of the Suburbia Civic Association.
"We're the bastard offspring of Anne Arundel County," said Frances Jones, president of the Arundel Improvement Association. "We never hear anything until it's too late."
Residents are upset thatthey knew nothing of the jail proposal until Neall asked state lawmakers to help pay for it two weeks ago. He is asking the state for $1.25 million in design money this year.
State lawmakers say they will be reluctant to approve the money unless the County Council, which must pay half of the $80 million jail, commits to the project. The council Monday delayed action on a resolution, requested by Neall, supporting the New Ordnance Road site.
The council will hold a second public hearing at Glen Burnie High School later this month.
Neall's decision to build a new jail is based on the recommendation of two consultants.
In early 1991, a prison consultant recommended building a jail rather than put a high-rise extension at the existing county detention center in Annapolis. Later last year, another consultant chose the depot property from a list of 35 potential locations, citing its low development costs, access to public water and sewer and distance from residential neighborhoods.
The consultant, David Blaha of Pasadena, said he identified 35 families within a half-mile of theproposed jail.
"I'd like to know what map he went by," Point Pleasant resident Joan Valenti said Monday night. "It must have been 1910."