Contaminated water from its site in Adamstown leaked into Tuscarora Creek.
Frederick, Md (KM) A representative from Quantum Loophole came before the Frederick County Council on Tuesday to explain what happened last month when contaminated water leaked into Tuscarora Creek. “First of all, I want to say that I’m not proud to be here. This undue stress in the community is something I’m not proud of,” said Scott Noteboom, the company’s Chief Technology Officer.
The contaminated water from the Quantum Loophole site which entered Tuscarora Creek came from dewatering operations on the site. Noteboom said a pipe which was drawing water from the ground had devices inside to filter out the contaminants. The property was once the home of Eastalco which processed aluminum.
Noteboom said the dewatering began in April, but a pipe burst, spilling contaminated water into the creek. He said the leak wasn’t discovered until May when a citizen informed the Maryland Department of the Environment. “So one of the problems that we have is that we didn’t realize what happened until May 22nd,” he said. “And quite frankly it was because of a citizen’s complaint interestingly enough. So citizen complaints can be a good thing.”
After that, Quantum Loophole stopped construction at its site. “We’re not coming back to construction until we’re fully comfortable, MDE is fully comfortable and the County is fully comfortable. And that’s exactly the activity that we’re doing now,” says Noteboom.
He said a lack of communications between contractors, consultants and regulators at the site led to not detecting the leak earlier and taking action. “There’s MDE themselves, who we interface with, as well as miscellaneous consultants that we work with. We’re a small company about 14 people so we have to hire the best people that we can rely on. Those are the silos,:” Noteboom said. “I would say a little bit of bureaucracy combined with misunderstanding is what is looking to what have caused this incident.”
Gary Hessong, the Acting Director of Planning and Permitting, had this response. “Directions, concerns raised in regard to that were mostly likely referred to MDE. And our inspectors probably stood back. it was a little outside their direct regulatory authority, ” he said.
Testing was done on the water in Tuscarora Creek about a month after the discharge of contaminated water occurred. The results were reviewed by MDE, which determined the water was not a public health concern.
Quantum Loophole was building data centers at the former Eastalco site before construction was halted.
Noteboom said the company is doing a root-cause investigation of this incident, and will release the results to the public when it’s completed. He also says a public forum is planned for July 13th at Hood College.
Councilwoman Renee Knapp, who lives in Adamstown, hoped Quantum Loophole will be more forthcoming in the future. “So I’m hoping in moving forward, if something does happen again, can we get into place a method of communication between County and Quantum Loophole, future companies building on that site, so we can swift and accurate communication to the residents of Adamstown, ” she asked.
Noteboom responded. “We completely agree with that. Quite frankly, there was people two weeks later calling into that line saying ‘I’m worried and I still haven’t heard anything.’ And we can definitely work together to get better at that.” he said.
Last week, County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced the formation of a work group to examine the current laws regarding data centers, and propose any new regulations, if necessary.
By Kevin McManus