Cleaning up of chrome waste 40% done, Allied-Signal says

January 29, 1991|By Phillip Davis

The massive five-year effort to demolish the chrome-contaminated Allied-Signal plant is about 40 percent completed, officials said last night, but added that they still had no plans for the Inner Harbor site.

That admission disappointed some of the 40 or so people who filled the community room of Lemko House on South Ann Street for the company's presentation.

"They have to make a decision before they cap the site, so to say that they have no plans now is a bit disingenuous," said Steve Bunker, of the local Waterfront Coalition of community groups.

"It's too risky to even consider building there," said Martha Pawliske-Herman, who lives in the neighborhood.

The 140-year-old plant, which was the first chrome processing plant in the United States, has been one of the state's most difficult hazardous-waste cleanup sites. Chrome, if inhaled, can cause lung cancer, and can react in water to cause various forms of pollution.

The $70 million cleanup began in 1989. Though they had no large-scale development plan, company officials hinted about what the future might hold for the site.

Allied-Signal Inc., at the urging of the state natural resources officials, plans to build 1.5 acres of shallow water fish habitat along the south side of the old plant, said William R. Blank, the company's senior project manager. That will allow fish to breed in the Inner Harbor, where the water usually is too deep.

And while displaying plans for a large embankment and impermeable clay wall to enclose the water-exposed sides, Mr. Blank noted that a "promenade" for pedestrians will be constructed along the entire site.

The project has not encountered any major problems, said Mark A. Sylvester, the company's environmental supervisor.

However, residents complained that very little independent testing was being done at the site. Mr. Bunker said that because of the lack of independent testing, the neighborhood coalition may ask to take samples of its own to an independent laboratory.

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