by Lisa Tome
If Charlestown staffers Janine Antoshak and Debbie Myers seem a little irritable these days, it's to be expected. The two women and town administrator Wib Pumpaly have been working in less than ideal conditions. They said that on October 19, a heating company dispensed fuel oil into an uncapped fuel line at the neighboring Charlestown Post Office. That fuel oil seeped into the basement crawl space which is dirt. Since that time, the building has been filled with a fuel oil odor.
"They took out barrels of dirt (from the crawl space)," said Myers. Maryland Department of the Environment officials have also inspected and are overseeing mitigation efforts. The mitigation is being taking care of by Alger Oil.
The clean up process, using absorbent and other methods, is ongoing. Making the situation tolerable is also an ongoing effort.
The building's heat is on and the windows are open. A fan is also running.
The building's door is also open. "Our electric bill will be (expensive)," said Antoshak. "We will have a January electric bill in October."
"It's much better than it was. But we do leave for lunch every day. It takes a long time to get this out," said Myers. "We've had headaches and nausea and we're all in a bad mood."
The mitigation continued last week. Myers said the staff works to get their duties done. They do take breaks and go outside. They also have days where they left early due to the smell.
"Our work is still getting done. We are focusing as much as we can," said Myers. The women said the smell has also seeped into their clothing. "Everyone who walks in notices it," added Myers.