A Wicomico County circuit judge has barred the owner of a tank farm at Sharptown from removing highly toxic chemicals from their containers without state and federal supervision.
Judge Alfred T. Truitt Jr. issued the 35-day temporary restraining order Wednesday against William R. Grigsby of Dover, Del., at the request of the town commissioners.
The community of 670 persons on the Nanticoke River near the Delaware border has been in an almost constant state of alarm since learning early last month that some of the 39 tanks that were to be used only for waste oil also contained a variety of deadly chemicals.
Since the discovery, while the town fathers have a watched warily, state and federal officials have been taking samples from the tanks and sending them away for analysis. Authorities also are attempting to pinpoint responsibility for disposal of the dangerous chemicals.
Court papers filed by the Sharptown commissioners this week quoted Grigsby as saying he intended to resume possession of the tank farm, which was auctioned off at a tax sale in June to Ocean Holiday Investments Inc.
Grigsby could not be reached for comment.
"What we've been afraid of," said town lawyer John Jacobs, "is he might send someone to drain one of the tanks," without taking the necessary precautions to prevent a spill.
A continuing Coast Guard analysis has shown that six of th tanks contain cancer-causing PCB, or polychlerinated biphenyls, and that two other contain xylene, a highly flammable solvent. If the Coast Guard decides the chemicals present an imminent hazard to the Nanticoke River, federal funds will be available to remove them. But the Coast Guard has yet to make such a determination.
The question of who is responsible for the chemicals has been complicated by a series of transactions involving the U.S. Small Business Administration, which lent money for the tank farm acquistion and twice foreclosed on defaulting purchasers.
"It just don't look good from this standpoint," Sharptown Mayor Ralph A. Cordrey said yesterday.