County Executive John R. Leopold Announces Renewed Well Testing Adjacent to Ft. Meade
Calls on Defense Department to Sign Clean-up Agreement
Annapolis (July 1, 2008) -Recent news reports on the legal impasse between the EPA and the Defense Department raise concerns regarding the oversight of potentially hazardous contamination of groundwater in Anne Arundel County. Without a binding agreement in place which spells out a timetable for the clean-up and penalties for violations, the County will take steps to assure that the public’s health is protected.
Yesterday, the County Executive Leopold wrote to Defense Department Secretary Gates urging compliance with the EPA orders.
County Executive Leopold said, "It is essential that the private drinking water wells close to Ft. Meade be protected from contamination. The present logjam at the federal level does not inspire confidence that this pollution threat is being adequately monitored. I have called upon the Defense Department to sign the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreement. Further, I have directed the County Health Department to resume well testing at properties which may be at risk."
The Department of Health will immediately resume annual well water testing at the homes adjacent to Ft. Meade. The County’s public water system is not affected by the Ft. Meade contamination.
County Executive Leopold continued, "All of the well owners in the sampling area have been identified and experienced representatives from the Department of Health’s Well Water Quality Program will assist them with the free and prompt collection of well water samples.".
These County actions follow several years of monitoring the environmental conditions at Ft. Meade. In March 2005, groundwater drawn from monitoring wells located at the edge of Ft. Meade property revealed the presence of harmful contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides and volatile organic compounds. The responsible regulatory authority, the EPA, was the lead agency directing monitoring and remediation efforts at the site under Superfund procedures.
Although the EPA, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Maryland Department of the Environment are the direct parties to enforcement actions involving contamination at Ft. Meade, Anne Arundel County and the Anne Arundel County Department of Health have closely monitored this contamination risk on behalf of County residents.
In response to this finding, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health identified 13 private residential wells adjacent to Ft. Meade that were at risk of contamination and offered voluntary free water testing. Four of the 13 homes were found to contain detectable levels of tetrachloroethene, but none were at levels near the federally established maximum contaminant level.
That testing was repeated annually in 2006 and 2007. While there continued to be detectable levels of volatile organic compounds and inorganic chemicals in the samples, none exceeded the federal safe drinking water standards and the overall trend did not appear to be increasing. As a result, annual re-testing of the residential wells was suspended.