APG denied permission to create 100 acres of wetlands Proposal is part of the "Superpond" project to test underwater blasts.

December 20, 1991|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Evening Sun Staff

Aberdeen Proving Ground will not be permitted to create 100 acres of wetlands in Chesapeake Bay as part of its proposed "Superpond" project that would test the effects of underwater explosions on ships and submarines.

The Army's Combat Systems Test Activity, seeking state and federal permits for the $22 million project adjacent to the Bush River on APG property in Harford County, had touted creation of the wetlands as a selling point for Superpond.

But Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials denied a permit for creation of the wetlands, APG officials said yesterday. Dredge spoil and dirt that would be excavated during digging of the large pond would be too fine to be used to create wetlands, DNR officials told the Army.

The material, if used to create wetlands along the bay shore near the mouth of the Bush River, could harm spawning fish in the area by depleting the water of oxygen, DNR officials told the Army.

Despite the setback, Col. Roy E. Fouch, commander of the test activity, said, "We're pretty much poised to start construction of this project."

The Army still needs other state and federal permits for some aspects of the project, he said, adding that officials wanted to start digging the Superpond in February.

Creation of the wetlands "was an opportunity to do something we thought was a real benefit to the bay," Fouch said. As a way TC to dispose of the dredged material, the Army proposed creating the wetlands.

APG officials recently sent letters to local elected officials and others who had concerns about Superpond, where model Navy ship sections weighing up to 2,000 tons would be subjected to underwater explosions. The tests would determine the soundness of the structures and the durability of sophisticated electronics inside them.

The pond, which the Navy wants to begin using late next year, would be 920 feet wide, 1,070 feet long and 150 feet deep. It is planned for a 60-acre site on the northern shore of the Bush River.

Federal wildlife officials and others also have raised concerns about bald eagles nesting or roosting near Superpond. The Army continues to maintain that the project will not disturb the eagles.

Harford County Councilwoman Theresa M. Pierno, D-District C, complained yesterday that the Army is not keeping local leaders informed about the project. A letter she received from the Army this week was the first correspondence since July, she said.

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