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From Brownfield To Superfund Site: Baltimore's Sauer Dump

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Residents are pushing officials to clean up the toxic Sauer dump in Baltimore's Dundalk neighborhood.
Sabri Ben-Achour
Residents are pushing officials to clean up the toxic Sauer dump in Baltimore's Dundalk neighborhood.

The Sauer Dump in Dundalk was listed as a Superfund site last week, after 30 years of testing and analysis by Baltimore County, the State of Maryland, and the Environmental Protection Agency. From the 1950s through the early 80s, it was used as a dump for all manner of waste--concrete, drums of chemicals, and electrical transformers with hazardous chemicals.

The 2.5-acre site is now contaminated with lead and poly-chlorinated biphenols, a probable carcinogen. PCBs are considered a risk at 0.22 parts per million. At one point, samples from the dump tested at 33,000 parts per million. The EPA takes action when lead reaches 400 ppm in soil. The levels at the Sauer dump at one point reached 26,000 parts per million.

It will cost several millions of dollars to clean up, but the Maryland Department of the Environment says it will only take around five years or so. That's a short time frame compared to other Superfund sites, which can take decades to restore.

Jim Carroll, program manager for the land restoration program at Maryland's Department of the Environment, says this will be comparatively short because there isn't extensive groundwater contamination, but rather it's soil, which can be dug out.

There are three potentially responsible parties: Baltimore Gas & Electric, American Premium Underwriters, and Jefferson Stone Smurfit (now bankrupt). However, they have not been identified as responsible for the cleanup costs. As of now, the EPA will likely pick up the tab.


[Music: "Radioactive" by Kings of Leon from Come Around Sundown]

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