The owner of a hazardous-waste landfill on Solley Road has begun building a network of pipelines and aerators that will purify contaminated water discovered beneath the site nine years ago.
The cleanup will begin after construction is completed about July 1, said Jill Nelson, a project manager for Browning Ferris Industries, a Houston-based trash disposal company.
"It is just construction [of a cleanup system]," she said. "We're not reopening the landfill."
Although trucks carrying pipes and heavy equipment have been entering the site since April, Solley residents have taken little notice of the activity, said Cheryl Snyder, president of the Solley Civic Association.
Residents, many of whom battled to close the 65-acre landfill in ++ the late 1970s and early 1980s, were angry when they first learned about the contamination of ground water, Ms. Snyder said. But they have waited so long for the cleanup to begin that the recent construction "is not a great big deal," she said.
Many residents will have to see the water treatment system in operation to believe the community's decade-long ordeal is over, Ms. Snyder said.
Ms. Nelson conceded that the project has moved slowly as state and federal agencies and BFI investigated the cause and engineered a cleanup plan. Progress also slowed as BFI negotiated to purchase property between the landfill and Marley Neck Boulevard, where much of the treatment system will be housed, she said.
"Nine years is a long time, but when you consider it can take up to two years to get a permit to build a new house in Anne Arundel County, it isn't that long," said Ruth Bell, who owns rental property directly across Solley Road from the landfill.
Even after the treatment system is in operation, there will be no quick fix, Ms. Nelson said. The cleanup of the plume of contaminated ground water, which is moving about 1 1/2 inches a day toward Marley Neck Boulevard, will take at least two years, most likely longer.
"With proper cleanup and proper monitoring, I think it can be a safe area," said Ms. Bell, who lives near by in Altoona Beach. "But it will have to be closely watched. I don't think anybody should ever let their guard down."
State and federal officials are requiring the company to monitor the ground water beneath the site and maintain the grounds until at least 2013.
BFI purchased the Solley landfill in 1973 and, in 1977, began operating it as a licensed, hazardous-waste dump. In 1982, it was shut down as a nonconforming land use; two years later, the Maryland Department of the Environment discovered hazardous waste seeping into the ground water.
The cleanup plan calls for BFI to pump contaminated water out of the ground and through a 35-foot-tall "air-stripper" to remove the waste, including the carcinogens trichloroethene and benzene. Treated water will be reinjected into the ground near Marley Neck Boulevard.
Air released during the treatment will be filtered through a carbon bed to prevent pollutants from being released into the air.
"After 10 years, this is the biggest step toward getting that contamination taken care of," said Mary Rosso, a Silver Sands resident who fought to close the landfill in the early 1980s. "The quicker we get that pumped out, the less we have to worry about people's wells and Marley Creek being contaminated."