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County sues state agency over landfill project

June 21, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN

The Washington County Commissioners have filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Environmental Service contending the state agency failed to fulfill a contract to cap the Resh Road Landfill.

The agency's breach of contract has delayed the project for more than six years and cost the county more than $7 million, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit was filed May 1 in Washington County Circuit Court.

County Attorney Andrew F. Wilkinson confirmed that the county is suing Maryland Environmental Service for $7,740,017 but said he could not comment further.

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The suit states that the county paid the service $248,000 to develop a plan for capping the entire landfill. The agency submitted a plan for the project's first phase, which included three cells on the north side of Resh Road, but did not follow up with a plan to cap the remaining five cells, according to the suit.

Capping involves constructing soil caps over landfill cells to meet environmental regulations.

The agency's failure to submit a second plan delayed the project's expected completion date by more than six years, to early 2010, the suit states. The county also lost more than $8 million in low-interest loans from the state, which it had to replace with funding at a higher interest rate; incurred millions of dollars in inflation costs; and had to remove leachate from the site, according to the suit. The suit does not specify why the delay caused the loans to be canceled.

Washington County Deputy Chief Engineer Rob Slocum said construction of the first phase of the project has been contracted to Pavex Inc. and is targeted for completion by the end of June. He said design of the second phase, which is being done by Urs Corporation, is expected to be finished in October.

Maryland Environmental Service is a state agency created by legislators in the 1970s to work on waste management and engineering projects while protecting the state's air, land and water resources, according to the service's Web site.

Sean L. Coleman, attorney for Maryland Environmental Service, said the agency denies all of the allegations in the suit. In an answer to the suit, Coleman wrote that the contract did not require the agency to provide a plan for both phases of construction, and that the commissioners did not pay $248,000 for the contract. Coleman did not comment further.

A scheduling conference has been set for Oct. 29 at 3 p.m.

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