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Fort Detrick: Building Site Groundwater Polluted

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FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — The Army says it has found unsafe levels of groundwater pollution on private property where a developer wants to build more than 700 homes near a Fort Detrick Superfund site.

Early sampling of water beneath a 92-acre site owned by Waverly View Investors LLC detected the solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, at levels above the maximum allowed for drinking water about 100 feet from the Army’s property line, said Joseph Gortva, Fort Detrick’s restoration manager. The Frederick News-Post reported Thursday on Gortva’s presentation to the post’s Restoration Advisory Board.

TCE exposure is associated with central nervous system disorders and several types of human cancers, especially kidney, liver, cervix, and lymphatic system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Gortva called the finding a preliminary observation based on sampling from one well. He said a second well on the property showed no TCE and a third detected the compound at an allowable level.

Gortva said he expects to receive more data in June after more wells are drilled.

He said the contamination is not affecting anyone, and that concentrations dropped sharply with increased distance from the fort.

The parcel adjoins the southwest border of the fort’s Area B, a largely undeveloped tract that includes a former dump site. The EPA added Area B in 2009 to its National Priorities List of the nation’s most polluted sites, commonly called the Superfund list.

The Army began sampling the groundwater in December under an agreement that averted a lawsuit threatened by Waverly View over its contention that pollution from Fort Detrick had devalued the property.

Waverly View’s lawyer, Thomas Lynch, told the advisory board his client would await further findings.

“We are as interested as you are about these results,” he said.

TCE was first detected off-post in four nearby private wells in 1992. Elevated levels of PCE, a suspected carcinogen, have been found in on-post groundwater.

The pollution appears to be from trenches the Army used for waste disposal from the 1940s to the 1970s.  Some of the trenches were excavated from 2001 to 2004, and all disposal areas were capped with low-permeability covers in 2010.
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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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