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BG&E; focus is cleanup of oil spill


PERRYMAN -- The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. says it's trying to determine the best way to clean up some 250,000 gallons of oil that leaked from an underground fuel line at its Perryman power plant.

"It's a large release. The good news is that it's all on site. It hasn't migrated off site or into the water supply," said John Goheen, a Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman. The bad news is that cleaning up this spill is going to be quite time-consuming."

The oil leaked into an area the size of about five football fields, Mr. Goheen said.

BG&E; reported the leak to the Environment Department last November, after repairmen replacing a leaking fuel line discovered extensive oil contamination of soil at the utility's 719-acre site bordering the Bush River in Harford County, Mr. Goheen said. BG&E; had thought the leak in the line was minor until then.

The spill wasn't made public until yesterday, when BG&E; officials called a meeting with the area homeowners association at a local firehouse to brief the community.

Officers in the Forest Greens-Perryman Community Association expressed confidence in the company's ability to clean up the oil, but they were worried about how long the job would take.

"BG&E; has always been up front with us, but I have concerns about the race between reclamation and [the oil] reaching the Bush River," said Paul Tracy, a member of the community association.

The oil has been found as deep as 17 feet underground, floating on ground water moving toward the river at a slow pace of 50 to 100 feet a year. It is separated from deeper aquifers by a layer of clay, officials said, and the community's drinking water is not affected.

"I am concerned about any oil in the ground," said Joseph P.

Dunn, the community association's president, who predicted that "going through the bureaucracy is going to take longer than extracting the oil from the ground."

"We have no beef with BG&E;," Mr. Dunn said. "They have always worked with us. They keep us well informed and do the best they can."

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