- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

CENTREVILLE, Md. (AP) — Deteriorating containers that once held a banned pesticide have been found in this Eastern Shore town, which has struggled for the past year with highly publicized wastewater treatment problems.

The containers were found on a municipal, 300-acre spray irrigation farm where the town deposits treated waste water.

Three town commission members, who have visited the site, say they did not know about the dump.

Community activist Sveinn Storm, who toured the site Friday with Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, said the problem is not the fault of town officials, who bought the property five years ago.

He thinks the containers were buried there years ago, then uncovered when heavy rains this winter eroded a sandy bank.

Mr. Storm said he found the dump on May 3 while searching for evidence of runoff of treated water and rain into Three Bridges Branch, a tributary of the Corsica River.

Mr. Gilchrest, who had already requested help from the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate complaints about runoff, told the Baltimore Sun that he would notify the federal agency about the dump.

“I think we need [the agency] to be a full partner,” said Mr. Gilchrest, a Republican.

Two weeks ago, he and Mr. Storm, a persistent critic, were threatened by town police with arrest for trespassing on the property.

Mr. Storm said he had made about six calls to the Maryland Department of the Environment, including more than one directly to department Secretary Kendl Philbrick, that were refused.

Richard J. McIntire, a department spokesman, said officials did not refused Mr. Storm’s phone calls.

“Mr. Storm made several calls and never divulged the nature of his complaint,” Mr. McIntire said. “He spoke with four upper-level staff members here. … If you really want to report a crime, you don’t demand to speak to the chief of police.”

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Gene Ransom III, who has also walked the site, said the state environmental department was ducking responsibility.

Two regional water quality inspectors from the state environmental department were dispatched Friday to check the dump, after Centreville Town Manager Royden N. Powell notified the agency.

Rusting metal cans and deteriorating plastic containers marked with warning labels for the insecticide Toxaphene were clearly visible at the dump site.

Toxaphene was widely used on cotton and vegetables and to kill pests on livestock until 1982, when it was canceled for most uses, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It was banned altogether 15 years ago.

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