Today, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adding at least 60 acres of Bear Creek in Baltimore County to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL lists hazardous waste sites eligible for cleanup financed by the federal Superfund program. High levels of contamination in the groundwater and sediment have been recorded in the area. The wastes include benzene, chromium, lead, naphthalene, benzo(a)pyrene, and zinc.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has a long history of tracking contamination of sediments in Bear Creek and engagement with all previous landowners as the Bethlehem Steel property changed hands. CBF and Blue Water Baltimore are currently coordinating with Trade Point Atlantic as they remediate contaminated groundwater on site and redevelop the peninsula.
People in the area bordering the creek, including the historic African American community of Turner Station, have traditionally used it for boating, crabbing, and fishing. Sediment samples collected by CBF and others have been consistently and highly toxic to small Bay-dwelling invertebrates raising concerns about ecological effects.
A 60-day public comment period will be open from September 9 until November 8, 2021.
Following the announcement, CBF’s Maryland Senior Scientist Doug Myers issued this statement.
“This action is the culmination of years of work by CBF and its partners to address the toxic contamination of Bear Creek’s sediment following decades of pollution. Identifying the chemicals contaminating Bear Creek sediments and the extent of that contamination is the next step toward a cleanup owed to the residents of nearby Turner Station, who first lost their swimming beach and fishing grounds decades ago and then their jobs as the steel mill closed.
“We urge EPA to conduct a swift and thorough investigation leading to a remedy that will reverse this toxic legacy.”
The EPA press release can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-proposes-adding-bear-creek-sediments-site-superfund-list
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