Press Release
May 2, 2012

CBF Challenges Plan
for Offshore Testing at Steel Plant

Evidence of pollution has been found at least 1,000 feet offshore from Sparrows Point, yet court accepted a plan to assess to only 50 feet

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its partners have appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals a lower court ruling that would allow the owners of the Sparrows Point steel plant to conduct a minimal investigation into offshore pollution at the plant. CBF seeks a much more comprehensive assessment in Bear Creek and the Patapsco River.

"All existing evidence indicates a broad belt of toxic pollution around the steel plant extending hundreds of feet into Bear Creek. The neighbors of the plant have the right to know what is in the water where they swim, crab and fish. We can't accommodate polluters at the expense of the public," said Kim Coble, Vice President of CBF.

For years, spot testing of sediment samples at certain locations in Bear Creek and the Patapsco River around Sparrows Point have found contamination.

As recently as December, tests contracted by CBF and performed by the University of Maryland's Wye Research Laboratory found sediment at the bottom of Bear Creek 1,000 feet off shore from the steel plant fatally toxic to bottom dwelling organisms.

But no comprehensive effort has been made to determine contamination levels well offshore. CBF has been pushing for this assessment for years.

The current owner of the plant, RG Steel, proposed on December 28, 2011, to test 50 feet offshore in order to comply with a 1997 pollution cleanup consent order. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) consented to the plan in a filing with the U.S. District Court. CBF and its partners objected to the plan as sorely inadequate.

On March 15, 2012, the Honorable J. Frederick Motz of District Court accepted the minimal investigation plan without change. CBF and its partners, including Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, now have notified the federal district court of their intention to appeal that ruling.

 

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