Drilling near Fort Detrick unearths unsafe groundwater

By Cara R. Anthony News-Post Staff  | Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 2:00 am

The latest off-post drilling project near a Fort Detrick Superfund site has revealed unsafe levels of groundwater contamination about 100 feet from the Army’s property line.

In a preliminary observation, the Army has detected TCE levels above the maximum contaminant level on an adjacent property owned by Waverly View Investors LLC. The discovery is an early observation that could change as work continues on the property, Fort Detrick officials explained Wednesday night during a meeting with the Restoration Advisory Board.

“I think the take-home message is that we are not seeing a plume that is extending southward that is impacting anyone,” said Joseph Gortva, Detrick’s restoration manager.

Gortva expects to receive more data in June after drilling is completed.

“We are as interested as you are about these results … I promise you,” Thomas Lynch, the attorney representing the developer, told members of the advisory committee during Wednesday’s meeting.

Waverly View Investors LLC wants to build 700 homes near a Fort Detrick Superfund site but will wait for results from water samples taken from the property.

Jennifer Hahn, a member of RAB, called Wednesday’s meeting a step in the right direction, but she wants to see city and county officials at the board’s meetings. In her three years on the board, she has seen only two officials attend the meetings, even though they are charged with monitoring public health and safety.

“It’s important for the community to understand that this is not a done deal,” Hahn said. “There is not a final report yet, and I don’t want my family put on top of it based on a lack of data.”

Drilling on the Waverly View property began Dec. 6 and is to continue through May. So far, packer sampling has detected TCE in one area of the property. Two other areas were also sampled. One area had no TCE, and a third area had a trace of TCE reported at low estimated concentrations below the maximum contaminant level.

In an interview Wednesday, Gortva stressed that groundwater impacts south of Fort Detrick do not extend far beyond the property line and concentrations drop off quickly in that direction in orders of magnitude.

The next Restoration Advisory Board meeting will be May 7.

Follow Cara R. Anthony on Twitter: @CaraRAnthony.

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