WWII-Era Debris Found Contaminating Coast Guard Yard

The Coast Guard Yard, on Curtis Creek in Anne Arundel County, is investigating construction and demolition debris that has potentially contaminated soil at the Yard.

Coast Guard Yard

The debris was likely buried around the time of World War II, when it was common practice to bury solid waste. It has been uncovered as the soil on the southeast part of the base eroded during heavy rains.

Preliminary results show a variety of metals in the soil and groundwater, along with poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and a pesticide in the soil. The early testing has not found an immediate risk to Yard employees or the public, but the Yard has temporarily suspended fishing and crabbing at a nearby pier.

The Yard has notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and hired an environmental testing firm to do further tests on the debris and contaminants.

“The Yard has been a bedrock of the community since the shipyard was founded in 1899 and many members of the Yard’s workforce live in the local community,” said Capt. Matt Lake, commanding officer of the base. “The Yard will work collaboratively and transparently with the EPA, MDE and the public to assure a healthy environment for its employees and neighbors as well as to protect the ecosystem of the nearby Chesapeake Bay.”

Once preliminary and follow-up test results are validated, the EPA and MDE will help determine if the Coast Guard Yard needs to do more to control the contamination. The Yard says it “maintains the overarching goal of ridding the entire 113-acre campus of any historic contamination.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano