BALTIMORE, MD (December 23, 2008)–Today Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced it has filed a citizen’s lawsuit requiring the Department of Defense to comply with environmental cleanup at Fort Meade. In August, MDE and the Office of the Attorney General submitted a Citizen’s Notification letter notifying the Department of Defense that, if they did not comply with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order to commit to specific actions and a timeline for the Fort Meade site cleanup within 90 days, MDE would file suit in federal court seeking injunctive relief. A recent Department of Justice decision ordered the Department of Defense to comply with the EPA requirements.
The following is a statement from Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson:
We understand that the Department of Defense intends to fully comply with the environmental requirements outlined by the EPA and requested by MDE and the Office of the Attorney General. Unfortunately, because the Department of Defense will not technically be able to comply with all requirements by December 22, 2008, MDE must proceed—so today we filed our citizen’s lawsuit.
We are very encouraged by the recent Department of Justice opinion, and the commitment expressed by Department of Defense to comply with Maryland requirements; however, until this facility is actually in full compliance we are moving ahead. While we fully anticipate the Department of Defense will be in compliance in the near future, what we need is long-term legally binding commitment from the Army to clean up Fort Meade as soon as possible. MDE wants to see full compliance with the U.S. EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Order and for the Department of Defense to enter into the Federal Facilities Agreement.
Fort Meade has been listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priority List, the nation’s list of the most seriously contaminated sites identified for long-term cleanup. Environmental assessment and cleanup is underway at many portions of the site, but more remains to be done. However, local residents should note that there is no immediate public health threat or concern.
It is imperative that the United States Army follow through on its commitment to clean up known environmental issues at Fort Meade as soon as possible.