–the following article was submitted by Sixth District Delegate Bob Long about the community meeting regarding the Bear Creek Sediments Superfund Site-
I attended the Bear Creek Sediments Superfund Site community update meeting on August 24th. The Bear Creek Sediments Site consists of a minimum of 60 acres of contaminated sediments in the waters of Bear Creek, outside Tin Mill Canal by the old Steel Mill.
Over 100 years of steelmaking was great for jobs and our local economy, but it also resulted in high levels of contamination on both land and in the waters surrounding the peninsula. Hazardous substances from the steel mills entered Bear Creek due to the steel plant’s wastewater and stormwater discharges and settled into the sediments of the creek.
People who used the waterways of Bear Creek for swimming, fishing, and crabbing may have been exposed to the contamination. A Water Contact Advisory is in effect until further notice for the freshwater portion of the Patapsco River in Baltimore County.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has issued a fish consumption advisory for 10 species of fish and the blue crab caught in the Patapsco River-Baltimore Harbor Watershed due to the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a toxin often formed as waste in industrial processes, which is considered a probable human carcinogen.
I am pleased that the area is being cleaned up, but I also want to make sure the area of contamination doesn’t spread. Our waterways have suffered the effects of industrial pollution and we don’t want the situation to become worse. I am also concerned about the amount of time for the clean-up. It should take approximately 2 years, I have voiced my concerns that boat traffic in the area must be addressed to insure free flow of boat traffic during the clean up work.
There will be another meeting in the Fall that will allow for public input when their plan is drafted. I asked for clear signage indicating where fish consumption should be avoided. We live in a very water-oriented community, and we all need to know which areas and activities are safe and which should be avoided.
I also invite you to voice your concerns to the following EPA representatives:
EPA Remedial Project Manager
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/superfund/bearcreek