I live within a mile of the Eastalco property in Adamstown. I heard about the proposed “new town” designation of the property through County Councilman Kai Hagen’s efforts to get the public’s opinion on it. It sounds to me like Eastalco wants to make as much money as it can off the land with no regard for the opinions of local residents or the environmental issues still remaining on-site.
It should be known that Eastalco has not been completely cleaned up. The case with the Maryland Department of the Environment has been closed; however, there is still likely residual contamination on-site and the owners will have to continue long-term monitoring of groundwater, surface water and soil contamination. There are two closed industrial waste landfills on the property that will need to be monitored. Additionally, in recent years 10 more debris disposal sites have been uncovered on the property. There is a strong possibility there are other unknown disposal or contamination areas on the property. Known carcinogens have contaminated the property, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tetrachloroethene (PCE), poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and arsenic. It should also be noted that the levels of contamination on-site were compared to the state restricted commercial and industrial standards, not residential standards.
When the MDE closed this case, they put in place engineering and institutional controls that will be required to be implemented now and during any future development. As part of these controls, the use of the identified soil management area (the approximately 300 acres frequently referred to) can only be restricted commercial or industrial. If a developer wants to build residential buildings in the soil management area, more cleanup may be required. Potential buyers/lenders of this property will have to take on a lot of risk due to the known and possible unknown contamination, and the overall costs associated with the required controls and monitoring.
There are already issues in Adamstown regarding walkability and public transportation that will never be addressed; is this because we are not wealthy developers/owners that have the ear of public officials? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use this land as something nonresidential that is also useful to the county and the environment, such as a
solar panel farm, a nature preserve, or a park? After decades of contamination from this property, it would be nice to see it become beneficial to the environment.