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APG to listen to public input about plan


The Aberdeen Proving Ground Support Activity (APGSA)is sponsoring a public meeting and a 45-day public comment period on a proposed plan to place a cover system over the Old O-Field ordnance disposal area at APG's Edgewood Area.

The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Magnolia Elementary School, 901 Trimble Road, Joppa.

APG will display information from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Bowleys Quarters Improvement Association, 1124 Bowleys Quarters Road in Baltimore County; from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Thursday hearing at Magnolia Elementary; and from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 20 at Washington College's Casey Academy Center in Chestertown.

APG officials, who announced the comment period last week, said it began June 22 and will last to Aug. 5.

Comments on the proposal must be postmarked by Aug. 5 and sent to the Directorate of Safety, Health & Environment, U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, Attention STEAP-SH-ER, Aberdeen Proving Ground, 21010-5423.

The Old O-Field disposal area was used from the late 1930s to mid-1950. Large quantities of ordnance items -- some of which contained chemical warfare materials -- were stored, recovered, buried, handled or destroyed there. APG officials say they currently are controlling hazards at the site through strict access controls, security patrols, air monitoring and a hazard response plan.

Cynthia Powels, an environmental engineer in APGSA's Directorate of Safety, Health and Environment, said the Army's goal with the cover system "is to reduce or eliminate potential hazards."

She said, however, that "comprehensive environmental studies of the entire O-Field area continue."

The Army proposes to cover the surface of Old O-Field with a permeable infiltration unit of sand, geotextile material and gravel. The cover would reduce the potential for releases of vapors into the air, allow water to penetrate the site and allow natural degradation of the waste to continue.

The ground water treatment system currently under construction Old O-Field would capture the ground water moving from the site and remove undesirable levels of chemical substances.

Ms. Powels said the sand layer would include an air monitoring system to provide an early warning of potential vapor release.

The Army expects the cover system to cost more than $11 million.

Ms. Powels said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of the Environment agree with the Army's proposal for the permeable infiltration unit cover, but the plan can be modified or changed, based on public input.

All written comments received during the comment period will be summarized and responded to in a "responsiveness summary," which will be included in the Army's "Record of Decision."

Copies of the feasibility study and proposed plan are available at the Edgewood and Aberdeen branches of the Harford County Library, the Miller Library at Washington College and the Essex Community College Library.

Residents who have questions about the meeting or proposed action can call (410) 272-8842. For residents of Baltimore and Kent counties, the number is 1-800-APG-9998.

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