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Tests to continue at Central Chemical site

March 10, 2006|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

Officials overseeing the cleanup of the former Central Chemical plant on Mitchell Avenue said they plan to install more wells extending from the U.S. Superfund site to determine how far contamination has spread.

"I think we need a little more information to really nail it down," William G. Murray, a geologist with the URS Corp. overseeing the project, told a group of area residents and other officials Thursday during a periodic meeting of the Central Chemical Site Community Liaison Panel. "We need to know how bad it is. How far does it go?"

Murray said previous testing determined contaminated materials have spread beyond the bounds of the property, and he is hoping to install the wells southwest of the 19-acre former fertilizer and pesticide plant that closed in the mid-1980s. It became a Superfund site in 1997.

Within the next few weeks, he expects to receive feedback from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency on a remedial investigation report his firm submitted to them in January documenting the extent of the contamination and related information.

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He said he is expecting to receive results within the next few weeks of another round of well testing performed in January at a series of wells surrounding the plant. Tests on some of the wells last fall revealed low levels of pesticides.

Murray said his firm is in the beginning stages of preparing a feasibility study, which will examine what approaches and technologies can be used to contain and clean up the contamination. He noted those options include passive methods, such as continuing to monitor the site and installing material to contain the contamination, and more involved methods such as excavating soil and treating the contamination in the ground.

The EPA will have the ultimate decision on what method it wants to move forward with, but once it selects a method, it will hold a public hearing to gather feedback from residents.

The liaison panel is scheduled to meet again May 11.

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