Monday, January 14, 2008

A Brief History of the Ratrie Property

A review of the Fourth Circuit decision in Crofton Ventures v. G & H Partnership (2001) has an extensive description of the property that adjoins the County trail segment through Odenton.

Initially, the property was intended to be 32 acres peeled off from an existing 55-acre tract of land owned by Harry and Dahlia Ratrie, and was going to be used as a location to store totaled cars and sell their parts.1 The property was sold in 1991 with the previous owners affirming that, to the best of their knowledge, no hazardous waste had been stored on the property.

In 1995, when Crofton Ventures began to develop the property, they quickly found a waste dump that contained 285 fully or partially buried 55-gallon drums of various offensive substances, most notably Trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent and known carcinogen. Sampling confirmed "high levels" of TCE in the soil and groundwater at the site.

Turns out, the location had previously been an asphalt plant, and that the drums, which contained a mixture of asphalt and TCE (a solvent to test asphalt) were almost certainly stored on the property as part of the operation. Though Mr. Ratrie was owner of the property during at least part of the time when TCE was dumped, he denied knowledge of the dumping in court. Conveniently, no record of the drums' disposal turned up.

Upon discovering the drums, Crofton Ventures "cleaned up the site."

The question that remains in my mind is, what, if any, pollutants remain on the site, and how many more of these silent time bombs lay buried in our abandoned mine sites?

1 This activity will be the subject of a future post.



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