From Brownfield To Superfund Site: Baltimore's Sauer Dump (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

From Brownfield To Superfund Site: Baltimore's Sauer Dump

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
So sometimes we can choose whether to participate in a risky behavior like drag racing, for instance. But then there are the times we don’t have a choice. I mean, with some risks, we can't really see them or avoid them, at least not at first. Take what happened in the Dundalk neighborhood of Baltimore where people spent years and years tossing all kinds of hazardous waste into the Sauer Dump. At the time, barely anyone realized the consequences and then those hazardous materials leeched into the back river. That's just one of the reasons local fisherman such as Joe Deuschle (sp?) are cautious about consuming what they catch.

MR. JOE DEUSCHLE

00:00:38
I crab out here, you know, a little bit. And I asked if it was safe to eat. They say, yeah, but don't eat the bottom feeders. And then don't eat the fat on the crabs.

SHEIR

00:00:46
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Sauer Dump, a superfund site. That means federal money will be used in the cleanup. Sabri Ben Achour trucked out to the site with a Maryland environmental official to find out just how bad the problem is and what exactly it'll take to remedy it.

MR. SABRI BEN ACHOUR

00:01:04
So we are in, looks just like a sort of, forested area. There's this chained up fence here.

MR. JIM CARROLL

00:01:12
Correct.

ACHOUR

00:01:12
And I am with Jim Carroll. Jim, why don't you tell me what you do for the Department of Environment.

CARROLL

00:01:17
Certainly, I'm the program manager for the Land Restoration Program.

ACHOUR

00:01:21
What happened here?

CARROLL

00:01:22
This site has had historic dumping between 1954, roughly and 1980s. In 1984, in Baltimore county came out, found a lot of surface material that needed to be disposed of. And that's when we discovered hazardous substances were present on the site.

ACHOUR

00:01:39
But, I mean, what kind of dumping? Like, who was putting what here? And why?

CARROLL

00:01:44
Everything from concrete and wood debris to drums that had oily liquids in it. Many people reported seeing drums coming -- being brought in by a truck. Those drums turned out to have hazardous substances in them. And then over time there was spills and releases. The main contaminates of concern, the polychlorinated biphenyls is one, lead was another and there are several other metals.

ACHOUR

00:02:07
PCB's polychlorinated biphenyls, why do we worry about those? Why are those bad?

CARROLL

00:02:12
Those are very toxic and they are carcinogens.

ACHOUR

00:02:15
So how does that affect the community around here? How does that affect wildlife?

CARROLL

00:02:18
For the community, unless you were directly in contact, there's not as much risk unless you were physically out there in the site and ingesting soil or drinking contaminated ground water. As for the wildlife, there is a risk to the wildlife who come in contact with some of the contaminates in the sediment and in the ground water or the soils.

ACHOUR

00:02:42
Because I mean, people aren't meant to eat the fish around here are they?

CARROLL

00:02:46
No, there is already fish advisories in place for back river. It's not a prohibition on eating fish but rather advice about when and what types of fish to eat. The fish advisories are not simply because of this site. There are many different sources of contamination throughout the area.

ACHOUR

00:03:04
How do you clean up something like this?

CARROLL

00:03:06
The EPA looked at four scenarios. One scenario was simply to remove soils that were contaminated by PCB's. There's a third alternative that would have those soils that are contaminated by PCB's over 10 parts per million removed and then there would be greater emphasis on capping the site and putting in a protective armoring around the shoreline. That's the remedy that the department preferred because it was going to be more protective of public health in the environment.

ACHOUR

00:03:36
So they would either, basically, dig up the dirt and incinerate it?

CARROLL

00:03:40
The dirt may be taken to an incinerator somewhere else that's permitted to handle it or it could go to an approved landfill for PCB and lead contaminated wastes.

ACHOUR

00:03:50
And tell me about this other option where they would cover the area.

CARROLL

00:03:54
Right, so you remove contaminated soils at some level. And then the EPA would go back in and require that there be a cap. And the cap could be -- have a geotech style membrane fabric and so many feet of clean fill put on top of that fabric. So it serves as a barrier. You want to prevent rainfall from leaching down into the soil. And you also want to keep people from being exposed to what is left behind.

ACHOUR

00:04:23
I know that a superfund cleanup is not an overnight process. How long do you think it's going to be before they start cleaning up and how long will it take?

CARROLL

00:04:31
The next step would be for EPA to compile data and then develop the feasibility study and finally prepare a record of decision. That could take two to three years to carry out.

ACHOUR

00:04:44
So when all is said and done, how long will it take?

CARROLL

00:04:47
A year or two possibly to...

ACHOUR

00:04:50
What should folks that live around here be thinking right now?

CARROLL

00:04:52
I think the important thing is that we need to get the remedy in place because this is a site that we need to get the cleanup done. It's taken a long time to get to a point where we can say, let's move forward and get this cleaned up so it can be returned, that the community can use it again.

ACHOUR

00:05:10
All right. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that...

CARROLL

00:05:12
No, thank you.

ACHOUR

00:05:13
...coming out here.

SHEIR

00:05:22
That was WAMU's Sabri Ben Achour talking with Jim Carroll of the Maryland Department of the Environment. Do you live near a site with environmental contamination? If so, we want to hear about it. You can reach us at metro@wamu.org.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.