Utilities Commission, 2020|


JULY 6, 2020

Mayor Cerino called the Zoom meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Council members David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting minutes of June 1, 2020. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of June 1, 2020 as submitted, was seconded by Meghan Efland and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that cash on hands for the Utilities Commission was $2,033,206.59 with $1,024,400.00 set aside for capital projects.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Efland moved to pay bills as submitted, was seconded by Tom Herz and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino call on Mr. Sipes to give his report. Mr. Sipes stated that all the trench repair paving and roadwork has been completed. He said that the Commission would notice a large payment of the Bay Restoration fees being sent in this month after being collected for the State during the year by the Utilities Commission.

Mr. Sipes discussed the recent failures of the oil recovery contractor for Shore Regional Hospital. In a 63-day period from April 1 to June 3, 2020 the recovery pumps were off for a total of 55 days. This was not reported by the contractor or discovered by MDE until after-the-fact. Additionally, Mr. Sipes expressed his concern for the straying from the EPA approved 8015 testing for TPH-DRO that is being allowed by MDE on the Shore Regional site. He said the use of Silica Gel Cleanup method changes the criteria that has been used for 30 years for judging the cleanup of the site and the results in that method show a 60-99% change to results without affecting the level of contamination.

Mr. Sipes also stated that “false positives” were the apparent rationale for the allowance of the SGC but there had been few “false positives” in the past to his knowledge. He had additional concerns that all wells are not ever sampled at one single time and that only 15 are chosen to be sampled out of approximately 55 monitoring wells.

Mayor Cerino asked Mr. Sipes if he thought that a letter should go to Chris Ralston at MDE concerning the use of the Silica Gel Cleanup method. Mr. Sipes said that MDE does not always answer difficult questions that are posed and recommended sending a letter to the EPA about our concerns. He said that the aquifer that that the Town draws its water from is a Class One drinking water aquifer and the cleaning standards being used are not matching that designation. He said a letter to MDE will not hurt but a copy of it should go to the EPA. He questioned the management and monitoring of the site in light of the undiscovered shutdown of operations.

Mr. Foster asked Mr. Sipes if he felt that inviting Mr. Ralston to a Zoom meeting would be helpful. He discussed the Hospital’s apology for the oversight but said he felt that the Town has had too many similar apologies. Mr. Foster said that in his experience with the EPA, they will say that the issue does not rise to the level where they would get involved and would send the issues back to MDE.

Mr. Sipes said that a letter to the EPA could merely ask them to review the MDE program. He questioned whether the Silica Gel Cleanup method had ever been used anywhere in Maryland where a groundwater cleanup standard had to be followed.

Mr. Foster asked Mr. Sipes if he was receiving all the test results. He also wondered how the 15 sampling wells were chosen. Mr. Sipes said he had all the test results and has been comparing the older ones to the recent ones for perspective. He said he called the EPA to ask the question about the standards for groundwater cleanup and was surprised to have the question answered by Chris Ralston of MDE and not the EPA>

The Mayor said that most meetings with MDE get fairly technical soon after starting and hoped that any Zoom meeting with MDE would get answers to the questions that Mr. Sipes, Mr. Foster and the Town had about the recovery but present and future.

Mr. Sipes last comment expressed his concern that the 1 part per million standard was challenged by the Silica Gel method where it is not by the 8015 standard. He felt the SGC method produced artificially enhanced results that did not reflect the actual removal of TPH-DRO.

There being no further questions or comments, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:58 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.


Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:                                                                          Jennifer Mulligan                                           Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                     Mayor

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