WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has announced plans to remove Tipton Airport from the “Superfund” cleanup list, a step that Anne Arundel County officials say is crucial to their operation of the airfield.
The EPA’s Friday announcement comes just in time for an Oct. 1 celebration by county officials, who plan to fly in to the former Fort Meade airport to mark its opening to private aircraft.
“Not being a part of the Superfund will make it much easier” to operate Tipton, both from technical and marketing standpoints, said Sam Minnitte, assistant to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens. “It is crucial to take [Tipton] off.”
The county signed a 25-year lease in May to operate Tipton and the deed will be officially transferred from the Army in January, Minnitte said.
When it reopens, Tipton will be the county’s first public general aviation airport. Besides reducing private plane traffic at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, county officials hope Tipton will help generate business for Anne Arundel.
So far, the county has invested $300,000 in minor repairs at Tipton. Officials expect that the airport will generate enough revenue to be self- supporting within three to five years.
The airfield has four hangars and a 3,000-foot runway, said airport manager Michael Wassel. It will have capacity of up to 300 single- and twin- engine airplanes and the Tipton Airport Authority expects that it will be home to at least 100 aircraft within its first year of operations.
Wassel said the 346-acre airport will operate only during daytime hours at first, but within six months the county expects to provide airfield lights, as well as fuel stations on site.
EPA’s Richard Kuhn said Tipton is the first portion of Fort Meade that the agency has proposed removing from the National Priorities List, better known as the Superfund list, of the country’s top hazardous waste cleanup priorities. The EPA put Fort Meade on the Superfund list in July 1998.
The EPA, the Army and Maryland’s Department of Environment worked together to clean up Tipton, where they found debris, drums of hazardous waste and 3,000 pieces of buried ordnance, such as shell casings, among other problems. In addition, two inactive landfills were covered as part of the cleanup.
EPA’s notice of its intention to delete Tipton from the Superfund list is open to public comment until Oct. 18, after which the agency will have up to 60 days to respond to any comments and issue a notice of final deletion. Information about the proposed EPA action are available at Provinces Public Library in Severn and the Army’s Directorate of Public Works in Fort Meade.
On Oct. 1, meanwhile, the first private plane will land at Tipton carrying the county executive and officials from the airport authority.
“A county our size requires this avenue of transportation,” said Minnitte. “That means a lot for this county.”