A property on the Patapsco River near Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.'s Brandon Shores power plant is one of a dozen being considered as a repository for muck dredged from Baltimore's shipping lanes.
If the Maryland Port Administration buys the 218-acre site from CSX Realty, a division of the CSX railroad, the state has promised community leaders to convert part of the property into a nature preserve and park.
"There is no doubt in my mind they are going to buy the property. They are in such desperate need" of disposal sites, said Mary Rosso, a resident of Silver Sands, a Stoney Creek community in the shadow of BG&E;'s smokestacks. "The thing is, we want it done in an environmentally sound way."
The state's pledge to preserve about 100 wooded acres in a natural state has convinced her that it will be done that way, said Mrs. Rosso, who also is president of Maryland Waste Coalition, a nonprofit watchdog group.
The Port Administration is searching for disposal sites to replace Hart-Miller Island, which legally cannot accept any more dredged material after the year 2000, said MPA spokesman Ray Feldmann.
Dredging the 120-mile long channel through the Chesapeake Bay to the Baltimore harbor will generate 104 million cubic yards of sand and grit, called spoil, over the next 20 years. The state regularly dredges the 50-foot-deep channel -- the depth necessary to accommodate coal-carrying vessels and other cargo ships -- to remove sediment that can clog it over time.
Port officials will choose a combination of sites recommended by a governor's task force two years ago that will provide the state with the disposal capacity it needs, Mr. Feldmann said.
Although Mr. Feldmann said the Port Administration will hold a public hearing if it gets "serious" about buying CSX site, Port Administrator Adrian Teel has already met with civic leaders from Marley Creek, Point Pleasant and Suburbia as well as state lawmakers from District 31 about the site.
The property, off Fort Smallwood Road and owned by CSX Transportation, could accept as much as 6.2 million cubic yards of material, Mr. Feldmann said. The CSX site has a licensed dike and containment pond to dispose of dredge spoil.
Port officials could decide by early next year if the state will buy the property, and the site may be in use by 1995, Mr. Feldmann said.
The disposal of dredge spoil is regulated by the state and federal governments because, if done improperly, it can permanently destroy aquatic habitats such as oyster bars and ++ alter the way the bay and its tributaries "flush" or clean themselves, said Curtis Bohlen, a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group.
Some of the sediment from the harbor may include toxic waste -- everything from marine paint peelings to factory sludge -- that has settled on the bottom, Mr. Bohlen said. Unlike clean spoil, which can be dumped on the bottom of the bay, contaminated material must be deposited in diked ponds and closely monitored, he said.
Contaminated spoil is disposed of at Hart-Miller Island. But port officials "are terrified that they are running out of space," Mr. Bohlen said.
Although Mrs. Rosso and state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Democrat whose 31st District includes Brandon Shores, said port officials had promised them contaminated spoil would not be dumped at the CSX site, Mr. Teel said yesterday that it would.
"This site was used [by private companies] for years and years and years for what is called contaminated dredge spoil from the same channels," Mr. Teel said. "We want to use it for what it already is permitted to do."
However, Mr. Teel said, much of the material should be clean silt only recently washed into the channel.