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Superfund site reuse discussed

May 23, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Local residents and members of a citizens land-use committee talked during a public meeting Thursday about the group's recommendation to reuse Central Chemical's contaminated 19-acre property in Hagerstown's West End as an office park or for light industry.

About 35 people attended the meeting at Western Heights Middle School, including at least 10 people who are not on the 25-member committee.

In 1997, the EPA put the property off Mitchell Avenue on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of the country's most hazardous waste sites.

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During an eight-month process the committee, which includes government officials, the Central Chemical president, residents and members of nonprofit organizations, were given information about the site and its potential reuses.

The committee decided, at its April 24 meeting, what reuse recommendations to make to the City of Hagerstown and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA, which is investigating the extent of the contamination of the property, will determine whether the recommended use is realistic and feasible. The study is expected to take about two years, EPA officials have said.

Committee members said they also would like some of the property to include a buffer, such as walking trails and vegetation.

During a break at the meeting local residents Ted and Ginny Atkinson questioned whether the group was making a major assumption in believing the property can be reused and, if so, that a company would want to purchase the property given potential insurance and safety risks.

Frank Dukes, a consultant helping with the committee process via a government grant, said it would be rare for a Superfund property to not be reusable after a cleanup.

Mark Brubaker asked Planning Director Kathleen Maher whether there would be demand for the two suggested uses and she said she believed there would be.

About 15 businesses identified as "potentially responsible parties" will have to pay for the cleanup of the property and the EPA's work on the project, EPA officials have 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.

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