By By Alan J. McCombs, Fort Meade Soundoff! Staff WriterAugust 28, 2009
The Army's ongoing investigation into whether groundwater around Fort Meade contains hazardous levels of various chemicals has returned promising results.
The preliminary findings, announced earlier this month, found that potable water in 54 private wells located in a section of Odenton fell within the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The data was welcomed by Paul Fluck, installation restoration manager, who helped coordinate the testing process.
"I was gratified to find that nobody's water had detections above the government's [standards]," he said.
The news was also welcomed by Dave Tibbetts of the Restoration Advisory Board, the post's environmental watchdog group.
"I'm relieved, but I need to see the data before I comment definitely," said Tibbetts, who is also president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association.
Even with the promising results, Tibbetts added that attention should remain on water safety.
"We're OK this round, but you've got slow-moving chemicals going in different directions," he said. "The whole problem needs to be carefully watched."
Fort Meade has been monitoring groundwater in the Odenton area since 2003 as part of an ongoing investigation into whether any contamination could be leaching from the post's closed landfill.
The recent round of testing comes after Fort Meade validated results released to the public in January, that uncovered increased chemical levels in a deep-water aquafer southwest of the post's closed landfill.
Fort Meade's drinking water and public water in Odenton are tested annually and are not at risk as a result of the chemicals found in the groundwater.
Since the EPA required Fort Meade to test groundwater off post, the installation -- in partnership with Anne Arundel County, state and federal environmental agencies -- hosted two town halls in April to inform area residents about the effort.
From April to May, Fort Meade workers canvassed parts of Odenton and asked residents whether they used private drinking water wells, and if they would allow the Army to test their wells for contaminants. Out of the 99 wells listed by the county in the testing area, about 54 well owners agreed to be enrolled in the initial round of well testing. Participating households were offered free bottled water by the Army.
While the first round of well testing seemed to indicate that the tested homes have not been impacted by the contamination, the Army began a second round in July that will continue into coming months to confirm the results, Fluck said.
"We hope residents will continue to participate for the second phase of the testing process," he said.
After the resampling, Fort Meade will host another public meeting, tentatively scheduled for October, which will be followed by a final report on area well water in December.
"It's just too early in the testing process to comment," said Kerry Topovski, director of the county's Division of Environmental Health. "We're going to wait for the confirmation data."
The preliminary results of the second round of testing will be discussed in the next RAB meeting, scheduled Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Directorate Of Information Management office in Bldg. 1978 on Route 175. The meeting is open to the public.
"It will be hashed out," Tibbetts said.