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Land Use Committee visits former Central Chemical site

December 13, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A Land Use Committee charged with recommending future uses for Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End visited the site Thursday.

The property off Mitchell Avenue was put on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites in 1997.

The visit to the slush-covered property came during the committee's second meeting. The first meeting was in late November.

Lynn Osgood, an associate of Institute of Environmental Negotiations of Charlottesville, Va., served as tour guide, pointing out where the company made pesticides and insecticides for government and private use.

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The committee has about 25 members, including government officials, the president of Central Chemical, local residents and members of nonprofit organizations.

Earlier this year, the city of Hagerstown awarded a $67,686 contract to E2 of Charlottesville to help organize a public outreach effort, facilitate the committee and public meetings and provide technical review of ideas developed locally.

E2 and the institute are working together on projects, officials from the two groups said.

Funding for the contract comes from an EPA grant.

The project's intent is to let the EPA know what the community thinks should be done with the property. The EPA will then determine whether that use is realistic and feasible.

What is built at the site depends on the nature and level of the contamination, city and EPA officials said.

During its meetings the committees are scheduled to review technical reports, brainstorm re-use ideas, and select a preferred re-use plan.

Under the current schedule, the committee will make a recommendation to the city and EPA in June.

The committee plans to hold eight committee meetings and three public meetings. The public meetings are scheduled for Jan. 23, March 20 and May 22. The times and locations of the public meetings have not been determined.

The next meeting is Jan. 16.

EPA Remedial Project Manager Humberto Monsalvo told the committee Thursday that the agency plans to do research, including taking soil samples, to better determine the extent of contamination, Monsalvo said. That analysis, which will include a feasibility study for the cleanup, will take about two years, he said.

According to the EPA, from the 1930s through the mid-1980s, Central Chemical blended agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, creating waste and byproducts that were allegedly disposed of in an old stone quarry on the property and in a sinkhole.

Contaminants on the site include arsenic, lead, benzene, aldrin, chlordane, DDD, DDE, DDT, dieldrin and methoxychlor.

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