TPA’s dredging up the past may destroy the future
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 22nd March 2018
“What lies beneath” should concern every citizen of Baltimore County. (Photo Credit:


The following column was submitted by an environmental specialist associated with the Greater Dundalk Alliance Community Association.

The Post strongly believes that every citizen should be aware of what’s going on at TradePoint Atlantic. This issue may potentially impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay, as well as the entire eastern corridor of Baltimore County.

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, TPA appropriated $48 million in funds in 2014 for cleanup of the former Beth Steel site.  To date, TPA has spent just $23 million of those funds on the contaminated site. That equals just $5.75 million per year to remediate one of the most toxic sites in the state of Maryland.

Note:  Officials from MDE advised The Baltimore Post of a meeting regarding environmental issues at TPA scheduled for April 25, 2018, at 6:00 pm at North Point Library. The meeting will also include members of the EPA.

RE: CENAB-OPR-MN (TradePoint Atlantic (TPA) (Formerly: Sparrows Point Terminal, LLC)/ Sparrows Point Terminal/ Dredging & Bulkhead 2013-61758-M07 – Permit Amendment project proposal.

This communication is a Formal Request for: 1. – an Extension of the USACE Public Comment period past October 30,2017; 2. – a Full and Comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS); and 3.- a Full and Comprehensive USACE Public Hearing pursuant to the Amendment Proposal for the existing Maintenance Dredge Permit – 2013-61758 -M07.

The Tradepoint Atlantic (TPA) application to alter and amend the existing USACE Maintenance Dredge Permit for Sparrows Point exceeds the permitted Maximum Depth Dredge Limit of the original USCAE Permit. That Permit was issued to Sparrows Point Terminal, LLC in 2013, not the current new owners of the property. TPA did not take ownership of the Sparrows Point Peninsula (SPP) until June of 2014. The Ore Pier Basin was dredged in 2014, removing approximately 40,000 cubic yards of surficial shallow sediment.

The characteristics of the sediments surrounding Sparrows Point Peninsula (SPP) are already heavily documented across 30 years as Hazardous Toxic Radioactive Wastes (HTRW) (USACE 2005) and EPA RCRA HIGH PRIORITY contaminated. Maryland Department of the Environment has categorically DENIED Water Quality Certification (WQC) for all previous Sparrows Point Peninsula proposed major dredge projects. The scientific analytical data evidence which qualifies and quantifies this fact is voluminous and unimpeachable. Any proposal which would disturb the naturally deposited sediment cap, approximately 4 feet thick, will expose and re-suspend HTRW/HIGH PRIORITY contaminated sediments beneath. This would be causal to a new pollution event released into the water column in an already determined MDE 303-d Severely Impaired waterbody. Any proposed TPA projects must have close and integrated Public interface through Public Hearings before any authorization for action. This is especially pursuant to proposed actions affecting, or effecting, the open waters of the State of Maryland and the Sovereign Riparian Rights of the People.

Our regional ecosystem, surrounding Sparrows Point Peninsula (SPP), has taken, in excess of, 50 years to achieve basic minimal restoration of life, after the damages incurred from the 120 year steel industry negative environmental impacts to our region. As of 2016, life has returned to our waterways and ecosystems. The chemical determination has been made by our Agencies that approximately 2 centimeters of surficial sediment is environmentally safe. Any sediments below this benchmark become increasingly contaminated the deeper the sampling.

This TPA Dredge Amendment Proposal will purvey major physical, geomorphological, chemical, and biological characteristic negative environmental impacts to the immediate project site; outward into the Patapsco River Basin; and ultimately into the body of the Chesapeake Bay itself. There is great concern as to the acute, chronic, and cumulative damages this TPA proposed project will levy upon the Public Domain. Also, the duration and length of time involved for any possible recovery from this overall major proposed dredge project.

As previously cited; it has taken approximately 50 years to realize recovery from the former 120 year steel industry effect; quid pro quo; we can conservatively posit another 50 year minimum period for environmental recovery from this TPA proposed project. This proposed TPA project will shovel through every molecule of contamination ever deposited at Sparrows Point Peninsula at this specific site. Overall, our waterbody may never recover; since it is already severely impaired now. We are faced with the prospect of our next two generations of heirs, once again, not being able to use our waterways and our aquatic natural resources for beneficial quality of life endeavors. This situation
demands active discourse before any course of action.

We, the SouhtEast Communities Against Pollution (SECAP) and Associates, respectfully, adamantly, and resolutely enter this FORMAL REQUEST for a Comment Period Extension; a full and comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement; and a full and comprehensive Public Hearing on this TPA Permit Application; and on all, forthcoming permit application processes pursuant to all proposals for projects by TPA concerning our Maryland waterways. 

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