Developer near Detrick Superfund site holds off on federal lawsuit

Developer near Detrick Superfund site holds off on federal lawsuit

Source: The Frederick News-Post (MD), November 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

A developer that wants to build more than 700 homes near a Fort Detrick Superfund site will wait for results from water samplings taken from the property before deciding how to proceed with a $37 million tort claim it filed against the post in March.

Thomas Lynch, of the Frederick office of the Baltimore law firm Miles & Stockbridge, filed an 11-page claim March 27 in Fort Detrick’s Office of the Staff Judge Advocate on behalf of Waverly View Investors LLC. The claim accused the Army of failing to stop contaminants from seeping onto the property, devaluing its land and stalling or possibly thwarting its eventual development.

“Right now, Waverly View is just examining all of their options,” Lynch said Monday.

Detrick environmental attorney Gary Zolyak said he let a six-month deadline to take action on the claim expire rather than answer it. In doing so, Zolyak said Waverly View may choose to go forward with a lawsuit in federal court. The deadline to respond was Sept. 27, Zolyak said.

Zolyak said the developer failed to prove the contamination existed and, if so, at what levels.

Area B has been a source of contention for residents in surrounding neighborhoods for several years. Groundwater samples taken in and around the 399-acre Area B have tested positive for TCE and PCE — chemicals commonly found in cleaning solvents — as well as chloroform at levels higher than federal drinking water standards allow. Some local residents have said they believe Area B is responsible for giving them cancer.

Zolyak said the Army is beginning to drill clusters of deep wells this week on the Waverly property to test the groundwater. The developer refused access to the Army for at least two years until it reached an agreement in May, allowing the military 18 months to access the property.

Zolyak and Lynch each said they hope to work together to come to a resolution based on the findings, which aren’t likely to come until the spring.

“That’s months off, and we all just need to see what those results show,” Zolyak said. “It really is anyone’s guess as to what we’re going to see from the samples.”

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