Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't Eat from It, Don't Drink from It, Don't Even Swim in It

State Issues New Health Advisories in Baltimore Harbor
A recent study found long-term exposure to sediments and waters adjacent to Coke Point may result in elevated health risks. A meeting to discuss the report will be held June 1 at the North Point Edgemere Volunteer Fire Company.

An environmental study authorized by the state of Maryland released Monday found higher than acceptable levels of risk for human beings and ecological resources with long-term exposure to sediment and surface water along the Coke Point shoreline at Sparrows Point.

The Maryland Port Administration is interested in acquiring the Coke Point peninsula on Sparrows Point as a potential site for a dredged material containment facility for the placement of sediment dredged from the channels in Baltimore Harbor. The MPA commissioned the risk assessment as part of evaluating the Coke Point for a dredging facility.

The Coke Point site is presently owned by RG Steel, the new owners of the steel mill at Sparrows Point. Long-term exposure, according to the study guidelines, is defined as 30 years over a lifespan of 70.
Yep, Baltimore Harbor pretty much sucks from an environmental point of view, and the area around Sparrows Point is some of the worst.  A site of heavy industry for much of it's history, it's sediments have accumulated the leavings from a couple of centuries long stream of toxic discards.

So the people responsible for the cleanup want to dredge the contaminated sediments and put then into a containment facility at Coke Point, in heart of the contaminated area.  Makes sense to me.  Why move the contaminated sediments a long distance to a clean site? Concentrate and confine.  Who would oppose that?
Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Kim Coble called the findings "disturbing" in a Baltimore Sun story, adding they were in line with contamination found in past sampling. Coble, the Sun reported, said authorities should proceed with a study of Bear Creek, a more widely used Patapsco tributary in the Dundalk area near Sparrows Point.

"Bear Creek isn't that far away," Coble told the Sun. Last July, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper and a handful of local residents filed suit against Severstal and ArcelorMittal USA, the previous owners of the Sparrows Point mill, accusing them of polluting nearby water and endangering citizens' health.
 Oh yeah.

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