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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Shanetta J. Paskel, 410-576-7939
spaskel@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Announces Intent to Sue U.S. Army for Contamination at Fort Meade

Notice of Intent Calls for Enforcement of EPA Clean Up OrderBALTIMORE, MD (August 19, 2008) – Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today notified the U.S. Army (“Army”) of Maryland’s intention to file a lawsuit to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) cleanup order for groundwater and soil contamination at Fort Meade, MD.

The Notice of Intent (“NOI”), required under the citizen suit provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), alleges that the Army has failed to comply with an existing EPA cleanup order at Fort Meade. The NOI 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, the EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment (“MDE”) 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, the EPA issued a RCRA enforcement order to address cleanup at Fort Meade. The RCRA Order found that there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment at Fort Meade and ordered that immediate actions be taken to protect public health and the environment. 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, PCBs, heavy metals, waste fuels and waste oils. Fort Meade was added to the National Priority List (“NPL”) on July 28, 1998. Further investigation by the EPA, from 1990 to 2006, detected the presence of contaminants in the groundwater and soil at levels exceeding EPA standards. Those pollutants include tetrachloroethene (“PERC”) and arsenic.

“Enforcing pollution and cleanup laws is essential to protect our soil and groundwater,” said Attorney General Gansler. “The Army and Fort Meade are valued Federal partners and members of our community who play an important role in the stewardship of the environment and natural resources we share. We expect them to do their part to clean up Maryland’s environment and protect the public. ”

The RCRA citizen suit provisions require Maryland to provide the Army and EPA ninety (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.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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