Maryland Class Action Suit Seeks Recovery for Fly Ash Contamination

posted on:
January 24, 2008

author:
Jere Beasley

category:
Environmental

Since 1995, Constellation Power Source Generation, Inc. has been dumping fly ash into old sand and gravel pits in and around Gambrills, Maryland. 

The fly ash, an inorganic, incombustible residue from burning coal to produce electricity, has contaminated groundwater with arsenic, lead, and cadmium.

These toxins have been linked to cancer and other serious health effects, including kidney damage, weakened bones, and neurological disorders.

The company stopped dumping the fly ash in 2007, but residents claim the company saw signs the sites were leaking contaminated groundwater over 7 years earlier.

A class action lawsuit was filed against the energy giant on behalf of Gambrills residents. Fly ash is a national problem and that the under-regulated dump sites located throughout the nation are polluting groundwater, surface water, and the air we breathe.

Some 34 residential wells in Gambrills are known to have been contaminated by the fly ash. Contamination levels have been detected at three times the regulated safe standard.

Constellation, in conjunction with BBSS, Inc. which owns the land containing the dump sites, entered into a court-supervised consent decree with the Maryland Department of Environment. Under the decree, the companies are to pay a $1 million fine, begin a state-supervised cleanup, and pay to have residents permanently hooked up to public water.

Until this last element can be achieved, the company has run above ground lines from distant fire hydrants and provided bottled water. Unfortunately, recent freezing weather in the area has frozen these lines, leaving the households without safe running water.

The plaintiffs contend that the decree fails to address all of the concerns and doesn’t fully compensate the residents.

Initially, injunctive relief was sought in the form of medical monitoring, air and soil testing, and well water testing for the community to insure the immediate safety of Gambrills residents.

Of immediate concern is other contamination, including the possibility of contamination of the deep aquifer that supplies municipal wells of Crofton, the nearby town.

The aquifer sits directly below the dump sites. It’s alleged that the clay cap installed to seal the dump and the "pump and treat" groundwater recovery system have failed to stop continued contamination.

The lawsuit also seeks remediation and restoration costs to restore the soil, water supplies, and property; compensatory and punitive damages; and demands a full cleanup to eliminate the threat of future contamination. The lawsuit is being handled by the firm of Murphy & Falcon, P.A. of Baltimore, Md.

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