A new study concludes that toxic contaminants from the Sparrows Point steel manufacturing plant in Baltimore County have polluted the Patapsco River to such an extent that people swimming in sections of the waterway over a lifetime would face two to five times the normal risk of cancer or other health problems, The Baltimore Sun is reporting.
The study, commissioned by the Maryland Port Administration, underscored the need for a comprehensive scientific assessment of the risks to human health and the environment from pollution that has been leaking out of the steel mill site for decades. In July 2010, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued plant owner Severstal and the former owners of the plant, demanding a thorough study of the risks and a halt to the flow of pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay tributary.
The leaking wastes, including benzene, chromium, lead, naphthalene, and zinc, have been found in Bear Creek and the Patapsco River.
"We applaud the Maryland Port Administration for undertaking this scientifically rigorous analysis in the Coke Point area,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Executive Director Kim Coble said. “But that is only one offshore area of the plant. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of Environment should require the current and former owners of the plant to conduct a similar study in Bear Creek."
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Photo by John Surrick/CBF)