The owner of a leaking hazardous-waste landfill has until today to devise options for dealing with ground water at the Solley Road site, according to an agreement with state environment officials.
A spokesman for Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. (BFI) said the company probably would submit a more detailed version of what it gave the Maryland Department of the Environment several months ago when applying for a permit to discharge treated water into nearby Marley Creek.
Spokesman Peter Block said the company, the nation's second-largest waste hauler, would not make its decisions public until the Department of the Environment receives the document today.
The state agency has not given itself a deadline for evaluating BFI's options and will not grant a water discharge permit until it reviews the company's document, said department spokeswoman Sandra Palmer.
BFI's Solley Road landfill was closed in 1982, mainly because of community protests over the nature of the landfill, and has been beset by problems since. Ground water contaminated with cancer-causing solvents has been flowing toward Marley Creek at more than twice the rate state officials anticipated, and the company has had to pump that water from the ground.
Also, a second plume of contamination was discovered this spring. The clay cap sealing two trash hills is coming apart, and the company is trying to get federal, state and local permission to recap the two mounds.
John Blumenthal, who owns the adjacent property, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against BFI in federal court in Baltimore. He claims that because pollution is showing up in the wells on his property, he can't get financing for the 738-house waterfront development he wants to build near Marley Creek.
"BFI is between a rock and a hard place. They should have taken care of it a long time ago, and they didn't," Mr. Blumenthal said.
Last year, BFI installed a system to strip solvents from contaminated ground water and return the treated water to the aquifer. But the reinjection did not work, and the company stopped the process in March. Since then, BFI has paid to truck the treated water away. The company also wants a cheaper solution.
BFI officials said they thought their idea to discharge as much as 144,000 gallons of treated water a day into an intermittent stream that leads to Marley Creek would work. The stream crosses Mr. Blumenthal's property. At a hearing in August, furious area residents and their elected officials opposed the plan. Mr. Blumenthal said it was environmentally flawed.
BFI had suggested pumping the treated water into the Anne Arundel County sewage system but ruled out the idea, mainly because of the cost: $1.3 million for a hook-up, $400,000 a year in user fees and $300,000 more in assorted one-time costs.
Two weeks ago, the county also rejected that suggestion, said Thomas Andrews, the county's chief land use officer.
Other options BFI ruled out in testimony in July were:
* Direct discharge into Marley Creek at a cost of $500,000.
* Continued storage and trucking of the treated water, at a cost of more than $2.2 million for the hauling.
* Discharging the treated water into a public water supply. That would require BFI to further treat the water and build a pumping station at a cost exceeding $1 million.