UMMS Shore Regional Health recently reactivated remediation pumps at the hospital to prevent heating oil contamination from further migrating towards the town’s shallow well field, located near the water plant.

“Oil was moving towards our shallow well field,” said Chestertown Utilities Manager Bob Sipes at last night’s council meeting. “It showed up in some monitoring wells.”

The monitoring wells located between the well field and the hospital had never before detected any contamination, Sipes said. He said the contamination was now the closest it’s ever been to the wells.

The reactivation of the hospital’s 22-year remediation program comes after the hospital’s recovery pumps were turned off at the end of last year with approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The hospital wrote MDE in March of 2012 that 81,000 gallons was reclaimed by their remediation system since 1991. The spill occurred during the mid 80s and was estimated at over 100,000 gallons.

Hospital officials lobbied MDE that the $50,000 annual cost to keep the cleanup  plan in force was reclaiming only nominal amounts of heating oil.

Sipes said that two of the five monitoring wells between the hospital and the well field recently detected liquid phase hydrocarbons, which is a property of heating oil.

“They fired the system up again to keep the [oil] plume from moving anymore,” Sipes said.

He objected strongly last year to ending the remediation program because the hospital’s own consultant, Earth Data, said the natural ground water flow was in the direction of the shallow well field.

Sipes said there has been no detection of contamination of the shallows wells.

Sipes’ announcement of the cleanup reactivation came just moments after he informed the council that Well-9, the town’s deep water drinking well, would go back online either this Friday or next Monday.

“We’re having extraordinary results with the rehab of [Well-9],” Sipes said.

Well-9 seized up last August due to iron bacteria buildup — and has forced the town to draw exclusively from the shallow wells since.

Well-9 draws from 300 feet into the Magothy Aquifer. The shallow wells draw from the Aquia Aquifer.