Settlement Calls For $50 Million Cleanup of Maryland Superfund Site

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland has approved a consent decree settling the government's claims against 40 companies responsible for contamination of the Maryland Sand, Gravel and Stone Superfund site in Elkton, Md., EPA announced on July 7.

The consent decree, filed on behalf of EPA by the U.S. Department of Justice, requires the settling defendants to complete the cleanup. The EPA-supervised cleanup effort began in 1984, and will take several more years to complete. The total cleanup costs may exceed $50 million.

The consent decree involves the third and final phase of the cleanup, which will cost an estimated $23.5 million. The final phase of the cleanup includes excavating and treating contaminated soil, backfilling treated soil, and expanding the groundwater pump and treat system. This phase also includes adding substances, such as molasses or oxygen, to the groundwater in order to facilitate the breakdown of hazardous substances by microbes.

As part of the EPA-approved cleanup plan, the settling defendants will address 1,4-dioxane contamination of groundwater and soil, which may cost an additional $7 million.

This 150-acre site is the location of a former sand and gravel quarry owned by the Maryland Sand, Gravel & Stone Co. From 1969 to 1974, the site was used for the disposal of industrial waste, including waste processing water, sludge, and hazardous waste drums. After a chemical waste fire at the site in 1974, about 200,000 gallons of liquid waste were taken to an off-site landfill, and the remaining drums and sludge were buried in on-site excavation pits.

The hazardous waste disposal at the Maryland Sand Site resulted in high levels of several contaminants -- including benzene, chlorobenzene, 1,4-dioxane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and vinyl chloride -- in the site's soil and groundwater.

Additional information on the Maryland Sand Site is available at

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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