Author: Ken Buckler
Submitted: October 09, 2015
Originally published in WashCo Chronicle, republished with author permission.
HAGERSTOWN, MD - Historical documents have surfaced which reveal that the State of Maryland was aware of ground water pollution at the Central Chemical superfund site in 1962.
According to the official history of the site from the EPA's "Record of Decision", the State of Maryland received complaints from nearby residents regarding the air quality surrounding Central Chemical. Air quality samples were taken, and the concentration was deemed not to pose a hazard at that time by the state health department. No mention whatsoever is made of the State of Maryland's knowledge of ground water pollution under the Central Chemical facility.
However, new documents reveal that the State of Maryland was aware of ground water pollution at Central Chemical due to a water quality study performed in 1958. The well in question, named Wa-Bi 19, was located on the Central Chemical property off Mitchell Ave. in Hagerstown.
In the 1962 bulletin, "Bulletin 24 - The Water Resources of Allegheny and Washington Counties", the following is stated:
The analysis of water from well Wa-Bi 19 (318 feet deep and cased to 38 feet) indicates chemical contamination of the ground water at that site.
This raises the question - why did the State of Maryland fail to act when finding evidence of chemical contamination? Any action taken by the State of Maryland would undoubtedly have been included in the EPA's Record of Decision - but this information is noticeably absent. Further water quality testing was not performed until 1976, when DDT was found in the Antietam Creek. This means that for eighteen years, the ground water contamination would be ignored by the State of Maryland. Even once identified, the State of Maryland only instructed Central Chemical to cover the lagoon and potential sinkhole to prevent surface runoff - no actions were taken to address ground water contamination.
Hagerstown and Washington County residents need to start asking for answers. The contamination at Central Chemical was unchecked, unmitigated for far too long. It's time for the State of Maryland to start answering questions. The problem was identified early on, why was no action taken?
Additionally - did the State of Maryland even notify the City of Hagerstown or the Washington County Health Department of the contaminated ground water?
Additional stories will be posted as information becomes available.
Ken Buckler is the editor of WashCo Chronicle