Water permit granted


The state Water Resources Administration has granted Black & Decker (U.S.) Inc. a permit to pump the full amount of ground water it requested for a cleanup of underground contamination at its Hampstead plant.

The permit allows Black & Decker to pump an annual average of 432,000 gallons of ground water per day from 10 wells at its Hampstead site.

State officials approved the permit Friday, but said yesterday that the company cannot begin pumping the ground water until a monitoring plan is in place.

The permit will expire Nov. 1, 2005.

Black & Decker requested the extra water to clean ground water that has been contaminated by industrial solvents. A public hearing was held on the proposal June 15.

The pumping is supposed to prevent contaminated ground water from leaving the site. The water will be cleaned and used at the plant or released into a local stream.

Linda Biagioni, Black & Decker's vice president for environmental affairs, said yesterday that the company hopes to have the pumping system in operation early next year.

Many local residents, Carroll County officials and Hampstead town officials objected to the scale of Black & Decker's proposal, fearing the large amount of water to be pumped would deplete the local water table and harm nearby wells.

"There will be years when they don't need that much and they won't use that much," Matthew G. Pajerowski, a Water Resources Administration geologist, said yesterday.

In wetter periods, when more ground water must be pumped to keep the underground pollution from spreading, the company will pump larger amounts of water from the wells, he said.

The permit allows the company to pump an average of 720,000 gallons of water per day during the month of greatest use.

"The withdrawal and treatment of degraded ground water will improve the quality of the water locally and prevent the movement of contaminated ground water to off-site wells," Mr. Pajerowski wrote in a document supporting the permit decision.

As a condition of the permit, the company must monitor the levels of ground water in the area. About 30 wells on the site and several wells off the site will be monitored, Mr. Pajerowski said.

Details of the monitoring plan have not been completed, he said, but he noted that Black & Decker will not be allowed to begin pumping water under the permit until the Water Resources Administration has approved the plan.

Mr. Pajerowski said the permit does not specifically mention the possible use by the town of Hampstead of water treated by Black & Decker.

However, he said that after the pumping system has been running for several months, the Water Resources Administration will meet with representatives of Black & Decker and the town to discuss municipal use of the cleaned water.

The intervening time will enable Black & Decker to ensure the system is working properly and to determine how much water will be available for use, he said.

Hampstead Mayor Clint Becker said yesterday he is "disappointed" that Black & Decker received the permit for the full amount of ground water it requested.

He said he would have liked the permit to include more information on the monitoring process, such as what information would trigger a "red flag" to indicate that water table levels have dropped too much and that pumping should stop.

The mayor also said the agreement was "diluted" because the municipal use of Black & Decker's treated water was not made a condition of the permit.

He said granting the permit first and talking about municipal use of the water later is like "closing the door after the horse is half gone."

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