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Neighbors of toxic Carrs Mill Landfill invited to voice concerns at meeting


Neighbors of the toxic dump site at Carrs Mill Landfill in Woodbine will get a chance Thursday to question county Public Works Department officials and environmental consultants about the site's cleanup.

At least 445 55-gallon drums had been dug up at the site, many of them found to contain toxic industrial solvents. Test results are not yet available for all the drums, which are being stored at the site until they are disposed of.

"Everyone out there should be concerned," said County Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, who is sponsoring the meeting along with County Executive Charles I. Ecker. "I think it's probably the biggest catastrophe that could have happened in the county."

At least $700,000 has been spent on the cleanup so far, and the effort is continuing to cost the county about $40,000 a week, said John O'Hara, chief of the county's Bureau of Environmental Services.

The cleanup contractor, Clean Venture Inc. of Linthicum, is expected to remove the first load of drums by the end of this month, Mr. O'Hara said.

Leo J. Malinowski, who lives on 11 acres across Carrs Mill Road from the dump site, plans to attend the meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Lisbon Fire House on Route 94.

"The thing that bothers me more than anything is that they're digging in there now, and the fact that we've had some of the biggest rainstorms in the past couple weeks that we've had in the last 10 years," Mr. Malinowski said. "They've got that ground tore up and that increases the percolation."

So far, however, no residential wells have shown contamination by solvents that have shown up at dangerous levels in ground water at the landfill site.

Residential well water is usually extracted from bedrock. Bedrock monitoring wells on the landfill site have shown levels 3,000 times higher than the federal drinking water standard for trichloroethlyene, a grease-cutting agent known as TCE.

That compound, like several similar solvents that commonly leach from landfills, is considered a probable human carcinogen because it has caused cancer in laboratory animals.

A shallow well on site has shown twice the bedrock level, and the nearby Cattail Creek has shown levels of TCE just above the federal standard.

Mr. O'Hara said Thursday's meeting is planned to deal only with the cleanup effort. A study of contamination from all three of the county's landfills, which led to the discovery of the drums, and consultants' recommendations on how to clean up local ground water, will be addressed at a future meeting.

The report on Carrs Mill is expected to be finished last, probably in February, Mr. O'Hara said.

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