Environmental Protection

Maryland AG Intends to Sue U.S. Army for Contamination at Fort Meade

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Aug. 19 notified the U.S. Army of Maryland's intention to file a lawsuit to enforce the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's order to clean up groundwater and soil contamination at Fort Meade, Md., according to an Aug. 19 press release.

The Notice of Intent, required under the citizen suit provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, alleges that the Army has failed to comply with an existing cleanup order. The notice further notes the presence of contaminants in the soils and groundwater, which exceed EPA's maximum acceptable levels and may endanger health and the environment.

The Army, EPA, and the Maryland Department of the Environment have been working together for years to investigate and remediate pollution at Fort Meade. These efforts are progressing well at many of the 150 identified sites at Fort Meade. However, in August 2007, EPA issued an enforcement order to address cleanup at the site, finding that there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment. The Army has refused to comply.

"Groundwater pollution at the Fort Meade site has been a problem for many years," said Attorney General Gansler. "The Army was ordered to clean up this site and has failed to complete their mission. We cannot stand by any longer while this pollution threatens Maryland's citizens and the environment."

Fort Meade has been a permanent U.S. Army Installation since 1917, once occupying approximately 13,500 acres in northwestern Anne Arundel County. A 1990s' evaluation at Fort Meade revealed a laundry list of pollution from solvents, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, heavy metals, waste fuels, and waste oils. Fort Meade was added to the National Priority List on July 28, 1998. Further investigation by EPA, from 1990 to 2006, detected the presence of contaminants in the groundwater and soil at levels exceeding EPA standards. Those pollutants include tetrachloroethene and arsenic.

The RCRA citizen suit provisions require Maryland to provide the Army and EPA 90 days notice before filing suit. The Army and EPA may reach agreement on the cleanup during that time; however, Maryland has preserved the right to proceed with a lawsuit against the Army to pursue cleanup of contamination at Fort Meade if they fail to reach agreement.

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