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Input sought on water cleanup

February 21, 2002

Input sought on water cleanup



By SCOTT BUTKI
scottb@herald-mail.com


Two different water concerns are among the issues facing Fort Ritchie and the Pen Mar area.

The U.S. Army is asking for public feedback to help decide which of two methods should be used to clean up ground water contamination on two acres at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base.

The cost of each option to clean up chlorinated solvents has been estimated at $1 million and each treatment process would take two years, Bill Hofmann, the Base Realignment and Closure environmental coordinator, said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Washington County is a little closer to having the funds to build a water system for about 80 homes now using cisterns and wells in the Pen Mar area, but more money is needed, county Water and Sewer Director Greg Murray said Wednesday.

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A new system would cost about $2.5 million, he said.

The county has applied for state and federal grants to fund the project, he said.

The state's capital budget for this year included $440,0000 for the project. That is seed money but additional grants are needed, Murray said.

The county could spend some of its own money on the project but it has not been included in the budget, he said.

Some of the residents in the Pen Mar area pay to truck in water to meet their water needs, he said.

The water system and the ground water contamination issue will come up at a March 4 meeting of the One Mountain Foundation and the Cascade Committee, said Karl Weissenbach, who is chairman of both organizations. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the Germantown Church of God, 16924 Ravenrock Road, Cascade.

The contaminated area on Fort Ritchie is on the northwest side of the upper lake, where Army vehicles were parked and maintained, Hofmann said.

The land will not be handed over to the PenMar Development Corp. until after the cleanup occurs, Hofmann said. PenMar is the state-created organization in charge of redeveloping the base property.

Hofmann said the two options for solving the problem are:

- Treat the contamination with a chemical that would oxidize or break down the contamination at an estimated cost of $934,000.

- Dig a trench downstream from the contamination and put iron chips and iron filings in the trench to create a wall that the contaminated water would go through. As the water goes through the trench it would break down the solvent, he said.

That is estimated to cost about $1.212 million, Hofmann said.

The public can express their opinions in writing and send them to Hofmann at P.O. Box 485, Cascade, MD 21719-0485.

Documentation regarding the issue is available at the Washington County Free Library at 100 S. Potomac Street, Hagerstown, the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library at 15055 Summit Plaza, Blue Ridge Summit and at Hofmann's office, Hofmann said.

Hofmann can be reached at 241-3750.

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