Could be worse [Editorial]

Haters gonna hate goes the well-worn cliche that has about run its course of freshness in the popular vernacular.

That phrase, however, best describes some of those who have expressed on social media their concerns about a massive debris field floating on the upriver side of the Conowingo Dam. There is a massive floating mass of wood, trees, stumps and other trash that has floated down the Susquehanna and come to rest against the Dam. The pile needing removal keeps growing as the river keeps flowing.

Exelon Generation, which owns the dam, has an ongoing operation called clamming, using a crane to pluck the debris off of the pile in the river, swinging it to shore, putting it in construction dumpsters and hauling it away.

“At Exelon Generation, we are committed to protecting the natural environments we share with our surrounding communities through a variety of sustainable practices, including debris removal around the Conowingo Dam,” Deena O’Brien, regional communications manager, wrote in a statement last week.

Debris traditionally piles up behind the Conowingo Dam, one of the byproducts of harnessing a river’s flow to generate electricity, but this year’s has been one of the worst in the last couple of decades.

The unusually large mess has attracted attention and haters turned to social media to question what the utility company was doing to prevent environmental harm downriver. The protests attracted the attention of the Cecil County government, whose officials recently went on a look-see of the site.

Alan McCarthy, the Cecil County Executive, issued a statement after the tour, trying to reassure those who questioned what Exelon was doing about the mess.

“Looking to your right as you drive across the dam into Harford County, gives you a live, up-close look at the pond behind the barrier and what Exelon has to contend with, and it’s not pretty,” McCarthy said in the statement.

The Cecil County executive said the tour was educational and has helped him have a better understanding of the situation.

“No one wants to see the debris floating in the water, but we also do not want to risk any injury; when conditions become safer, the clean-up will commence,” he said in his statement. “The fact that it all collects there really is a good thing; otherwise, it would be going down the Susquehanna in large volumes.”

It’s not ideal to have so much trash, natural or otherwise, floating down the river, but as McCarthy said, it could be worse if all that debris was headed downriver – rather than being caught by the dam.

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