Baltimore to pay $3.9 million to help clean up pollution from dump site

Baltimore officials agreed this week to pay $3.9 million to help clean up hazardous pollution from a dump site in East Baltimore.

The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, voted Wednesday to enter into a consent decree with the federal government and state of Maryland to deal with pollution at the 68th Street Dump site.

The consent decree states that the city could be required to spend more money in future years.

The Environmental Protection Agency notified Baltimore officials in 1999 and 2014 that the city had “potential liability” to clean up the site, which consists of seven landfills that cover 239 acres crossing the city-Baltimore County line from East Baltimore into Rosedale. Much of the site is in Baltimore County, but 18 acres are within city limits.

The landfills have been closed for decades.

From the 1940s through the 1970s, the site was used for dumping solid and liquid municipal, commercial and industrial waste. Medical waste and incinerator ash from the Pulaski Incinerator were also dumped there.

The waste contained hazardous chemicals that contaminated the soil, groundwater and wetland areas at the site, which is near Herring Run.

The projected total cost of cleaning the site is $55 million. Other property owners and businesses that generated or transported waste disposed in at least one of the landfills are contributing to that total.

Environmental Protection Agency officials see cleanup of the site as critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. River herring, striped bass, and white and yellow perch use the water in the area for spawning. Blue crabs and shrimp are in the water there too, environmental officials say.

The funds will go to restoring wetlands and streams, reforestation, and potentially adding public recreational areas after the cleanup.

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