Agencies Continue Berlin Chemical Spill Investigation

BERLIN – State and federal investigations into the chemical spill at Heron Park are still underway and could be for some time, according to Berlin officials.

Mayor Gee Williams said this week that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to conduct independent investigations into the chemical spill that occurred in June at Heron Park.

“We do not anticipate either agency will be coming to a final conclusion of their findings in the immediate days or weeks ahead,” Williams said. “The investigation goes all the way back to when the property was owned and operated by Tyson, Inc. and the poultry processing plant has not been in operation for about 15 years.”

He said the town would be sending final information to both agencies before the end of the week.

“The Town of Berlin will continue to provide any information by any means requested to facilitate the investigations of both the MDE and EPA,” Williams said. “From what we are learning about the investigation we fully expect it to be a long process. How long, it’s just too soon to say. What the final outcome will be, there is no way of knowing at this time.”

Though the town council voted to close the park indefinitely at Monday’s meeting, citing the $55,000 cost associated with removing the debris that remained following the spill, Williams said they’d receive additional cost estimates at the Oct. 15 meeting.

“I expect the costs for doing only what is necessary to make Heron Park safely accessible to the public will be presented to us for approval or rejection,” he said. “I expect these basic costs to be substantially less than the $55,000 proposal.”

The park’s closure this week came as a surprise to members of the Heron Park Advisory Committee. Though the funds initially intended for park use were used instead to cleanup the chemical spill, committee chair Amy Field said committee members had met last week and were still hoping to work on small ways to improve the park.

“We’d simplified our goals since the budget was wiped out,” Field said.

She said committee members had planned to focus on small ways to beautify the park and improve the visibility of its entrance. Though the council’s decision to close the park puts those plans on hold, Field said committee members were still willing to help when the time was right. She said they’d just wait and take their cues from the council.

“We’ll do whatever we can to serve,” she said. “The advisory committee is just a group of volunteers that care about the town.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

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.