THE REGION

Suit Possible Over Intake Pipe in River

Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley (R) said he is prepared to sue if Maryland officials continue to block efforts by the Fairfax County Water Authority to build a new water intake pipe in the Potomac River.

Maryland owns the river and has refused to grant a permit to build the intake pipe because of concerns that such a new facility would cause further damage to the sediment-laden river.

Fairfax water officials contend that a pact between the states in 1785 and another agreement in 1958 give them the right to build the facility. And they say there will be no adverse effects from the pipe, which would be built under the river bottom.

In a letter to the chairman of the Fairfax water authority, Earley pledged to take "whatever legal actions are necessary" to win.

A suit by Virginia against Maryland would be filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Children's Hospital, Nurses Make Deal

With two hours and 15 minutes left before a strike deadline, nurses union negotiators and Children's Hospital management agreed early yesterday on a three-year labor contract.

The 4:45 a.m. deal averted a work stoppage that would have required replacements for the 413 unionized nurses to keep the hospital functioning, officials said.

The agreement includes an average 15 percent pay raise over three years and limits on the hospital's right to compel nurses to work overtime shifts, which the union said can contribute to patient care errors.

The hospital promised to curtail its use of supplies that do not protect nurses from workplace hazards.

By 2002, the hospital must dramatically expand the use of sheathed needles to prevent accidental infections and reduce the use of natural latex rubber products, such as gloves, that can cause dangerous allergic reactions after years of workplace exposure.

MARYLAND

Schools Required to Give National Test

The Maryland Board of Education has voted to require local school systems to administer the national Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills annually to all second-, fourth- and sixth-graders.

Montgomery, Calvert and Charles counties are among the six systems in the state that do not already give the multiple-choice math, reading and language arts test to every student every year. Parents will be notified of their child's scores.

In addition, the board reappointed Walter S. Sondheim, 91, as its president. The former department store executive headed Baltimore's school board in the 1950s and the Governor's Commission on School Performance in the late 1980s.

Chemical Injures 2 Workers, Paramedic

A hazardous-waste spill at a Bladensburg company sent two employees and a Prince George's County paramedic to the hospital yesterday after they came into contact with an unknown chemical, fire officials said.

Two male workers at Tri-County Industries, a hazardous-materials cleanup firm in the 4900 block of Buchanan Street, experienced headaches and dizziness about 9 a.m. after they came into contact with about 10 gallons of the chemical, which had spilled as it was being pumped into a storage tank, said Lt. Mark Brady, a Prince George's fire spokesman. A 25-year-old paramedic reported similar symptoms after he tried to assist the workers, Brady said.

All three men were taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where they were listed in stable but good condition. Brady said four other Tri-County Industries employees who were working near the spill were taken to the hospital as a precaution but were released.

Fire officials said they were conducting tests to identify the spilled liquid, which had been used to clean heavy machinery.

Decision on Bay Dumping Delayed

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will delay until next summer a decision on whether silt and sand dredged from shipping lanes can be dumped into the Chesapeake Bay.

A draft Corps report concluded that dumping at Site 104, north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, would cause no serious environmental problems. That conclusion was criticized by environmental and local activists, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (D-Md.) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Army Corps said yesterday that it decided to revise its environmental impact statement after considering public concerns and consulting with other federal agencies.

VIRGINIA

Fairfax Finding School Bus Drivers

Fairfax County has shelved plans to change drastically the starting times of 31 schools now that it has sharply reduced a shortage of school bus drivers.

School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech said yesterday that most of the schools that might have been affected will have to change opening times by only five or 10 minutes, although a few schools decided to open as much as 30 minutes earlier for other reasons.

He said that the driver shortage had been cut from 150 to 47 and that he expects to close the gap further with bonuses and other incentives.

Driving Trail Planned for Bird-Watchers

The state wildlife agency has begun development of a driving trail for bird-watchers along the state's coastline and Eastern Shore.

The Virginia Coastal Birding Trail will feature popular locations like Cape Charles and Kiptopeke State Park, as well as lesser-known sites still to be identified, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries said.

Virginia has one of the most diverse bird populations in the Eastern United States, with 400 resident and migratory species.

Wildlife watchers spend nearly $700 million a year in Virginia, the game department said. Planning for the driving trail is expected to be completed by January.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"Congress has the right to make up policy decisions for this nation. You have no right to dictate policy to a local jurisdiction."

-- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) protesting as anti-democratic some riders attached to the city's budget bill by the House of Representatives.