Press Release

April 9, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-MD) praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today for finalizing the addition of the Fort Detrick Area B Groundwater Site in Frederick, MD, to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Of the 42 contaminated sites at Fort Detrick, the Area B Groundwater site was the only site without a scheduled or completed remediation.

“EPA’s action today is welcome news for the Frederick community, which has been waiting too long for the Department of Defense to finalize the clean-up of sites contaminated by hazardous waste generated at Fort Detrick,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.  “I applaud the new leadership at EPA for moving to expedite the cleanup at this Fort Detrick site.  The Army has indicated that they view the listing as a constructive step toward completion of clean up at Fort Detrick. I welcome their renewed commitment to the health and welfare of our servicemen and women, local communities and the environment.”

“I applaud the Obama administration’s new team at EPA for acting quickly to add Fort Detrick to the National Superfund List – and make its clean-up a priority. It’s been one of my top priorities, too. For years, I’ve worked to cut through the red tape and make the Department of Defense finalize the clean-up of sites contaminated by hazardous waste generated at Fort Detrick.  I’m please the new Obama team acted quickly on the concerns Senator Cardin and I laid out in our letter in November. Today’s news is welcome news for the Frederick community, and all those who live, work, pray and play on this base,” Senator Mikulski said.

Shortly after the Presidential election in November, Senators Cardin and Mikulski sent a joint letter to then President-elect Obama urging his new administration to state unequivocally that the Department of Defense must abide by its legal obligations to move forward with necessary clean-ups of contaminated sites in Maryland. Such actions would help protect the health and welfare of our servicemen and women, their civilian neighbors, as well as the environment.

As described in the EPA announcement, the parcel of land known as Fort Detrick Area Ground Water Area B site was used as a disposal area for chemical, biological, and radiological material from the 1940s until 1970. Wastes disposed at the site released trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE) into the ground water, contaminating residential drinking water wells.  There is the potential that the groundwater contamination could spread to areas that could affect the more densely populated areas in Frederick.