MDE inspection photo
We want to make you aware of an alarming, developing situation posing a risk to rivers, streams, and wetlands in Southern Frederick County, and to the Potomac River.
As you may know, Quantum Loophole, a data center site developer, is in the process of preparing its Adamstown property for further construction. This area is the former location of the Eastalco aluminum smelting plant. Quantum is also installing a massive fiberoptic conduit to connect the Eastalco site to Ashburn Va. The planned route of this conduit runs under the Monocacy River and through five floodplain / wetlands areas in Frederick County. A significant part of the installation process involves Horizontal Directional Drilling through and under these sensitive areas.
See the site's Environmental Covenant and MD Dept. of the Environment
inspection reports for the Quantum site here:
Dumping Contaminated Water
into Tuscarora Creek
Since early April, Quantum Loophole has illegally dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of presumed-contaminated water into Tuscarora Creek, which flows directly to the Potomac River. They did this in direct violation of the Environmental Covenant put in place by the Maryland Department of the Environment to keep the people and ecosystems of the region safe.
MDE inspection photo
When Alcoa decommissioned the plant there remained groundwater and soil contamination, both of which posed potential ongoing environmental risks. To address these concerns Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Alcoa agreed to an Environmental Covenant (EC) for the property. The EC is like an easement; it is binding on all future owners of the property or a subdivision. The EC permanently restricts certain activities on the site and spells out specific procedures for future construction activities.
serious, and ongoing violations of the Environmental Covenant and of State law.
* Extensive prohibited site dewatering occurred for more than a month,
* Ground water was dumped directly into Tuscarora Creek,
* Water volume dumped to the Creek is estimated by MDE to have been
72,000 gal / day,
* MDE estimates that more than 14,000 gal / day continue to drain into the Creek,
* Water was discharged into Tuscarora Creek without any testing.
By the number of regulations Quantum Loophole has already violated, so early in
the construction process, they demonstrate a callous disregard for the
environment and their neighbors.
Drilling and Destruction in Sensitive Wetlands
In August 2022 Quantum Loophole began installing a major fiber optic loop (the QLoop) to connect its Adamstown complex with Northern Virginia. The project is making extensive use of a highly risky process called Horizontal Directional Drilling, to cross wetlands, floodplains, streams, and rivers.
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) inspections have revealed numerous, and ongoing violations. In fact, nearly every on-site inspection by MDE has discovered new or continuing violations of Maryland law and permit requirements. Violations include:
* Multiple “Frack outs”, where drilling fluid is released into streams and rivers (see photo at the top of this page);
* Use of unapproved drilling fluid additives;
* Unexplained loss of drilling fluid into the bore hole;
* Construction activities extending up to 150’, well beyond the permitted 30’ Limit of Disturbance; and
* Storing hazardous materials in the floodplain, including over 1000 gallons of diesel fuel.
In its rush to ‘move fast’ Quantum Loophole disregarded Frederick County regulations and began construction activities in the floodplain at the Monocacy river without approval. Frederick County issued a stop-work order, and the project is stalled. Work can resume only if the Frederick Board of Zoning Appeals issues a special exception to allow activity within the floodplains. Quantum Loophole should be held accountable for the damage created so far and any further work should be put on hold until they clean-up the releases, restore the illegal land disturbance, and resolve the violations.