By Chuck GordonJuly 24, 2009
Fort Detrick Public Affairs
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, visited Fort Detrick July 6 for briefings and a brief tour of the landfill site on the installation's Area B.
The Maryland Department of the Environment announced June 24 that it had approved plans to cap six landfill sites on Area B, which are contaminated with biological waste, testing materials, and chemical and herbicidal waste.
"I applaud Fort Detrick, the MDE and Environmental Protection Agency for coordinating cleanup efforts and moving forward with plans to cap these contaminated sites," said Cardin, who also chairs the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of EPW.
The senator, Fort Detrick garrison leaders, local citizens and the media gathered on Area B to observe testing wells and the site of the largest of the six landfill caps now under construction.
With earthmoving machinery in the background, installation restoration manager Joe Gortva briefed the landfill cap plan.
"This is the gold standard for capping landfills like this," said Gortva. "The cap is designed to keep rainwater from penetrating contaminated soil, and leeching biological wastes and chemicals into the groundwater."
Restoration efforts have been ongoing for several years at Area B, and when the caps are complete, only one area will remain to be remediated -- the groundwater.
"Efforts already under way have dramatically reduced TCE and PCE contamination here," said Gortva. "We actually anticipate that the caps will further reduce contamination and may render remediation of the groundwater unnecessary."
Cardin has made the site a priority, as well as a similar sites at Fort Meade and elsewhere.
"This contamination is historical in nature and is not related to current activities. I applaud Fort Detrick, the MDE and Environmental Protection Agency for coordinating cleanup efforts and moving forward with plans to cap these contaminated landfills," said Cardin.
"Fort Detrick is our nation's premier biomedical research and development facility, and I am committed to ensuring that the contamination at here is fully addressed, that remediation efforts are ongoing, and that the community's health and safety is assured," he said.
"Contamination cleanup at Fort Detrick is not just about keeping Fort Detrick safe," said garrison commander Col. Judith Robinson. "It's about keeping the Frederick community safe. We're not only living on the post, we're part of the community as well, and risk management is a continuous effort."
Only about 300 military families live on Fort Detrick, but some 8,500 employees work here. The greater number of military and civilian workers live off-post.
Environmental manager Bob Craig discussed options for using the land after capping.
"Col. Robinson has asked us to explore potential uses for this area after the caps are complete," said Craig. "We're looking at several different ideas, among them photovoltaic panels, to generate electricity, and use as parking space."