The Maryland health department issued a permit yesterday allowing an aluminum company to dispose of brick laced with cyanide and fluoride residues in a landfill at the plant site in Frederick County.
Residents who had raised concerns about the landfill and its possible effects on their well water said they were pleased with conditions imposed on the Eastalco company in the dumping permit.
The state ordered that the bottom of the landfill be raised four feet above what the company had requested, moving it farther away from the underground streams that feed the wells of rural residents in the area a few miles south of Frederick city.
The state also ordered an increase in the slope of the landfill to ensure that toxic chemicals would seep into a collection pond for decontamination treatment.
The permit also bars landfilling of brick waste that contains amounts of cyanide or fluoride thought to be harmful, according to department spokeswoman Linda Smeynie.
The contaminated waste is a byproduct of the process of smelting aluminum, which involves electrolysis.
"Our concerns have been validated," said Christy Carton, who formed the Concerned Citizens of Adamstown to oppose the dump.
"I'd be supremely happy if there was no landfill, but I feel the state has done probably the most judicious thing limiting the concentration of these components, Carton said."
Carton criticized the state, however, for allowing the temporary storage of fresh waste on the ground while "old" waste that's been sitting on outdoor concrete pads for years is placed in the landfill.
"As a temporary measure, it's going to have to happen," Smeynie said. "This isn't a good alternative, but it's all we had to deal with."