- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2008

— Maryland’s attorney general has put the U.S. Army on notice that the state will sue if necessary to enforce a federal cleanup order at Fort Meade relating to soil contaminants.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler contends the Army has failed to comply with an order from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminants in soil and groundwater, which has been a problem at the fort for years.

“The Army was ordered to clean up this site and has failed to complete their mission,” Mr. Gansler said. “We cannot stand by any longer while this pollution threatens Maryland’s citizens and the environment.”

A spokesman for Fort Meade did not return a call seeking comment.

The Army, the EPA and the Maryland Department of the Environment have been working for years to clean up pollution at Fort Meade.

Mr. Gansler points out that efforts to clean up the problem had been progressing at many of the 150 identified sites at the fort. But in August 2007, the EPA issued an order to address the cleanup, calling for immediate actions.

Mr. Gansler’s notice of intent to sue points out that the contaminants in the soils and groundwater exceed EPA’s maximum acceptable levels and may endanger health and the environment.

Shari T. Wilson, secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, said Tuesday there is no immediate, public-health threat or concern.

“The intent of this letter is to prompt the Army to enter into a long-term, legally binding commitment to clean up Fort Meade as soon as possible,” she said.

A 1990s evaluation at Fort Meade revealed a list of pollution from solvents, pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, waste fuels and waste oils.

Fort Meade was established in 1917 and sits on about 13,500 acres of land in Anne Arundel County.

State Sen. James C. Rosapepe, a Democrat whose district includes Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, described the intent to sue as “an important step in protecting our local environment.”

“The health of the Patuxent River, the Patuxent Research Refuge, and the residents of Laurel and western Anne Arundel County demand prompt cooperation by the Department of Defense with the EPA,” he said.

Maryland is required to give the Army and the EPA 90 days notice before filing a lawsuit.

The Army and EPA could reach an agreement on the cleanup during that time. But 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.

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