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‘Caustic chemical’ spills at Berlin Falls Park

Photo submitted by Thom Gulyas.
A “caustic chemical” spill with a pH level of 13 was discovered last Wednesday at Berlin Falls Park at the site off Old Ocean City Boulevard.

By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer

(July 4, 2019) Crews worked to mitigate the spill of a “caustic chemical” last week at Berlin Falls Park, according to the Berlin’s Managing Director Jeff Fleetwood.

Fleetwood said Town Administrator Laura Allen made him aware of a Facebook post circulating last Wednesday about a potential spill that resulted in the death of wildlife at the site on Old Ocean City Boulevard. Fleetwood said at least one turtle died.

He visited the site, located “between the first and second pond,” and town officials then contacted its resident consulting firm, EA Engineering, Science, and Technology Inc. The company recommended that the town contact the Salisbury-based environmental contractor, Chesapeake Environmental Services.

Fleetwood said a crew from Chesapeake Environmental Services arrived around 3 p.m. last Wednesday and determined a “caustic chemical had been spilled.”

Fleetwood added the liquid had a pH level of 13, which is the same as bleach or oven cleaner, while a neutral pH level is 7.

The Maryland Department of the Environment visited the site last Thursday and began an investigation after receiving a report of the chemical spill at the park last Wednesday, according to Jay Apperson, deputy director for the department’s office of communications.

“We have agreed on the tactic, and the strategy to do the cleanup,” Fleetwood said.

Fleetwood stressed the nearby ponds were not compromised. As for the cleanup process, he said a plan was in place.

“All the liquids are [going to] be pumped out and contained,” Fleetwood said. “The soil, the contaminated soil’s [going to] be removed, and then backfilled with clean, fresh soil.”

The circumstances leading up to the chemical spill have not been reported.

Fleetwood added crews were expected to finish containing the area by Monday.