Berlin Closes Park Temporarily After Chemical Spill

Berlin Closes Park Temporarily After Chemical Spill
Temporary closure signs are pictured at the entrance to Berlin Falls Park. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Berlin Falls Park is now closed following a chemical spill at the property in June.

Though the park was open in the weeks immediately following the spill, the municipality was advised to close it late last week.

“We still have some hazardous soil and liquid on site,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said. “We’re in the process finishing a review of the property to see if there’s anything else that needs to come off.”

Allen said officials cordoned off the entrance to the park late Thursday afternoon. She said the closure came at the advice of Chesapeake Environmental Services—the company that’s working with the town on site cleanup—and the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office. Allen said she expected the closure to last a couple of weeks or a month at most.

When asked about the fact that the park was open in the weeks immediately following the spill, including for the town’s fireworks display, Allen said the closure recommendation didn’t come until later.

“We had clearance from the fire marshal to have the fireworks event,” she said. She added that in subsequent conversations with the fire marshal and Chesapeake Environmental Services (CES) they’d suggested closing the park on a temporary basis.

A chemical spill was located at Berlin Falls Park in late June, as a contractor was working to demolish several small buildings on the property that hadn’t been used since its days as a poultry processing plant. Town officials were alerted to the spill via a social media post from a resident that showed dead turtles in what looked like a pool of oil. Officials immediately brought CES in to handle the cleanup. Mayor Gee Williams outlined the process in a July 1 statement.

“Although all chemicals at the site of the spill were removed, a 6-foot chain link fence has been constructed around the spill site,” Williams said. “The ponds were tested, and no chemicals were found.  In addition, silt fencing and an absorbent buffer was established along the perimeter of the spill area to prevent any impacts to the adjacent pond during the excavation work. The Town also contacted the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) upon discovery of the chemical spill.  Representatives of MDE visited the spill site throughout the clean-up process. The Town of Berlin is working with CES to determine if there are any other chemicals at any location in Berlin Falls Park and for the removal of any such materials, if found.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.