BERLIN – Cleanup is underway after a chemical spill at Berlin Falls Park.
Hazmat crews were in the park Wednesday evening to begin the cleanup process after a chemical spill was located within the park. Demolition work has been underway in the park as a contractor has been removing some of the smaller old buildings left on the site since its days as a poultry processing plant.
“Per town sources, preliminary findings indicate the contractor hired to demolish the buildings failed to follow protocols with chemical removal and remediation,” said Jack Orris, vice chair of the Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee. “Tanks stored in one of the buildings were destroyed and chemicals left on the property near and around the ponds.”
In March, the town accepted a $124,000 proposal from Coastal Site Works LLC for demolition of seven small buildings at Berlin Falls Park. The demolition work had been underway for some time when a social media post Wednesday alerted town officials to the fact that there was a substance that looked like oil oozing among the debris.
Dean Strawbridge, part-owner of Coastal Site Works, says his company did nothing wrong.
“The demolition job was supposed to be free of contamination and hazardous materials,” he said. “The town removed the tanks and hauled them away.”
Councilman Thom Gulyas, who visited the site Wednesday evening, said hazmat crews were on site and that officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment were expected to visit the park Thursday.
“This not only has caused obvious environmental concerns but also caused the death of some wildlife,” Orris said, citing the deaths of some turtles in the park.
Gulyas, who stressed that the contractor hadn’t consulted with town staff regarding the chemical tanks, said cleanup was expected to be complete by Friday. The spill is not expected to impact the town’s July 3 fireworks, which take place at Berlin Falls Park.