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Banned pesticide found at dump on Shore poses no danger, state says


CENTREVILLE -- State environmental regulators say traces of a banned pesticide found in soil, water and sediment samples taken at an abandoned Eastern Shore dump near here are within acceptable standards and pose no threat to public health or groundwater.

The tests, conducted by an independent laboratory, were ordered by the Maryland Department of the Environment last month after rusted barrels that once contained the chemical Toxaphene were found in a wooded ravine adjacent to a 300-acre spray irrigation field that is part of Centreville's new wastewater treatment system.

Three days after learning of the deteriorating barrels, which were probably buried 15 years ago, MDE's Emergency Response Division cleaned up the site. Samples were tested for a range of pesticides. Only Toxaphene was found, and that was in trace amounts that are not dangerous, MDE said yesterday.

State and town officials have faced a series of well-publicized problems with the municipal wastewater treatment system that includes the spray irrigation operation. As a precaution, officials plan to remove surface soil with the highest concentrations of the chemical, a step beyond current environmental regulations, said Town Manager Royden N. Powell III.

"We're going ahead and excavate the top level of soil, grade it and seed it," Powell said. "It's beyond what is required, but this way it won't continue to be an issue."

Last year, the town replaced an aging sewage treatment plant that had been blamed for polluting a tributary of the Corsica River. Spray irrigation is the sewage treatment system's final stage.

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