Andrews board finally hears about testing being done at old UT site

After years of watching test wells being drilled around the former Dana/United Technologies Automotive plant in Andrews, town leaders are finally getting an idea of what's going on.

John McInnes, representing Stantec Consulting, spoke during a special meeting of the Andrews Town Council on Nov. 28. He was invited by the council, Andrews Clerk-Treasurer Bill Johnson says, adding that a representative of the company that owns the land is expected to appear before the council in January.

Stantec Consulting, McInnes explained, is monitoring the presence of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the ground and the aquifer around the plant, located at 303 N. Jackson St., and now used as a storage facility for burial vaults.

TCE is an industrial solvent, which the United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified as "carcinogenic to humans."

Johnson says the TCE has been found only in a narrow band immediately west of the plant and has not been detected in the town's water supply.

"Most of the town doesn't have any issues at all," he says. "The area of this plume is not the entire town; it's a very narrow band."

However, a home immediately west of the plant was purchased and demolished by the landowners - United Technologies Automotive - several years ago because high levels of TCE fumes had been detected in the home's basement, Johnson says. The reason for the home's demolition was never explained to town leaders, he says.
"The council's goal is to bring this problem to light," Johnson says.

Other homes have been tested and basement vents have been installed in some homes, he says.

United Technologies Automotive had a facility in the former Dana building until 1993. United Technologies still owns the land, Johnson says, but sold the building to Revis Island LLC, which uses it for storage.
United Technologies is monitoring the presence of the solvent around the plant, Johnson says.

McInnes told the council the purpose of the monitoring is to keep the chemical from contaminating the air or water in the area. While the chemical has not reached the town's water supply, McInnes says his company has installed a filter at the water plant to remove any traces of the chemical.

The chemical has been detected in the ground since the late 1980s, Johnson says.

Town council members are considering hiring an independent consultant to study the situation and provide an objective opinion, Johnson says.

"Sticking your head in the sand and hoping it goes away is not going to solve the problem," Johnson says.

In other business:

• Council members approved a letter to be sent to the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development, noting that a proposed addition to the Bethesda Free Will Baptist Church would not cause problems with stormwater backup.

• The council approved the purchase of a new desktop computer, at a cost of $765, for the town water plant.