Landfill owner cited by state for no permit Several counts filed after surprise check by Md. regulators; Site was closed in 1992; Spencer family runs sand, gravel business on Abingdon site


Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc., owner of a rubble landfill closed by the state more than three years ago, has been cited by the Maryland Department of the Environment for operating without a permit.

The company, which was forced to cease operating its rubble landfill in August 1992 after repeated infractions, also was cited Sept. 19 for operating an open dump. Other accusations in the citation are accepting illegal waste, creating a potential environmental risk and operating a natural-wood waste recycling facility without a permit.

The Spencer family operated a private rubble landfill from 1987 to 1992, when its permit expired and was not renewed by state regulators. The Spencers continued to do business as a sand and gravel company.

The citation, issued after a routine inspection, said the Spencer operation illegally accepted rubble -- construction and land-clearing debris, including concrete, scrap metal, used lumber and tree stumps.

An inspector's written report said a 12-foot mound of topsoil and construction debris was near a sediment pond near Abingdon Road. The Spencers own property on both sides of the road just north of Interstate 95.

The inspector's report also noted that on the east side of Abingdon Road "landclearing debris, primarily brush, had been brought in from construction jobs for grinding into mulch," a procedure that requires a permit.

The company has been advised to immediately stop all solid waste disposal activity and to stop accepting natural wood waste, said Edward Dexter, chief of the Solid Waste Compliance Division of the Department of the Environment.

The state called for removal of all illegally dumped waste to a state-permitted disposal facility within 30 days, the citation said.

Susan Ford, attorney for Spencer Sand & Gravel, refused to comment.

The Spencer family started mining sand and gravel on their property in the 1940s, selling to builders, pavers, contractors and individuals. In later years, they operated the private rubble landfill, "reclaiming" or filling the excavated land with rubble.

When the Spencers sought to expand the rubble landfill in 1992, MDE rejected the request because of unresolved problems, ranging from ground water contamination to filling beyond the area where permitted, according to state documents.

The last complete inspection of the property was in November, when officials from the county Health Department and MDE responded to complaints that tree stumps were being hauled in, Dexter said. Inspectors found no violations.

Mr. Dexter said closed landfills s'are subject to unannounced inspections at least once a year. The Sept. 19 citation is the only one issued by MDE to the Spencers since the rubble fill was closed.

He said that if the Spencer operation does not comply within 30 days, it will be issued an administative order from the state secretary of the environment, who also could levy a fine.

In a related matter, Spencer Sand & Gravel is contesting a decision by the county zoning administrator to block the proposed expansion of its surface mining operation at the Abingdon site.

Last fall, the state Department of Natural Resources granted John W. Spencer Jr. a permit to mine 18 acres on the east side of Abingdon Road on the condition that the operation comply with Harford zoning requirements.

The county balked, saying the Spencers would have to obtain "special exception" status to expand in what has become a largely residential neighborhood.

Hearings on that issue continue at 7 o'clock tomorrow night in County Council chambers in the courthouse in Bel Air.

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