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Defendants to Complete $50 Million Cleanup of Maryland Sand, Gravel & Stone Site

Release Date: 7/7/2005
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the federal district court in Baltimore has approved a consent decree settling the government’s claims against 40 companies responsible for contamination of the Maryland Sand, Gravel and Stone Superfund Site in Elkton, Md.

The consent decree, filed on behalf of EPA, by the United States Department of Justice, requires the settling defendants to complete the cleanup. The EPA-supervised cleanup effort began in 1984, and will take several more years to complete. The total cleanup costs may exceed $50 million.

The consent decree announced today involves the third and final phase of the cleanup, which will cost an estimated $23.5 million. The final phase of the cleanup includes excavating and treating contaminated soil, backfilling treated soil, and expanding the groundwater pump and treat system. This phase also includes adding substances, such as molasses or oxygen, to the groundwater in order to facilitate the breakdown of hazardous substances by microbes.

As part of the EPA-approved cleanup plan, the settling defendants will address 1,4-dioxane contamination of groundwater and soil, which may cost an additional $7 million.

Under the Superfund law, landowners, waste generators and waste transporters that are responsible for the contamination of a Superfund site must either clean up the site, or reimburse the government or other parties for cleanup costs.

This 150-acre site is the location of a former sand and gravel quarry owned by the Maryland Sand, Gravel & Stone Co. From 1969 to 1974, the site was used for the disposal of industrial waste, including waste processing water, sludge, and hazardous waste drums. After a chemical waste fire at the site in 1974, about 200,000 gallons of liquid waste were taken to an off-site landfill, and the remaining drums and sludge were buried in on-site excavation pits.

The hazardous waste disposal at the Maryland Sand Site resulted in high levels of several contaminants -- including benzene, chlorobenzene, 1,4-dioxane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and vinyl chloride in the site’s soil and ground water.

Since 1984, when the site was added to EPA’s Superfund list of the nation’s most contaminated sites, EPA has been involved in extensive cleanup efforts at the Maryland Sand Site. Past cleanup activities at the site have cost $20.7 million,

In 1988, forty potentially responsible parties entered into a consent decree with the U.S., agreeing to conduct the first phase of the EPA-approved cleanup plan which involved the removal of about 1,200 buried drums and construction of a pump and treat cleanup system for shallow contaminated ground water. A 1992 consent decree amendment required the parties to complete the second phase of the cleanup, addressing monitoring and treatment of deeper groundwater.

Additional information on the Maryland Sand Site is available at