EPA Issues Order to Army at Fort Meade
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently ordered the Department of the Army to move forward with the cleanup of 14 hazardous waste sites on the Fort George G. Meade military base in Anne Arundel County, MD, and adjacent property previously transferred by the Army to the U.S. Department of Interior and now part of the Patuxent Research Refuge.
The order, issued under EPA’s authority to address solid and hazardous wastes that may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment, requires the Army to assess the nature and extent of the contamination, and to determine and implement appropriate corrective measures.
The contaminants of concern include numerous solvents and heavy metals, explosives, arsenic and PCBs. Elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, pesticides and explosive compounds have been detected in aquifers. Low levels of volatile organic compounds, below health-based standards, have been detected in residential wells located in Odenton, Md.
Based on information available to the EPA, no other drinking water sources are affected by the contamination. In addition, munitions have been found throughout the former range training areas of the base, including portions of the Little Patuxent River.
People who drink water containing volatile organic compounds may develop liver problems and have an increased risk of getting cancer.
Exposure to PCBs may cause skin rashes, immune system problems, and a potential for increased cancer risk.
The Army has been working to address wastes at the site since 1998 when the Fort Meade installation was designated as a Superfund site. The order ensures that the work proceeds under appropriate EPA oversight.
This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.