The state agreed yesterday to finance the cleanup of polluted soil in Rock Creek, after months of haggling with federal regulators over the project's scope and cost.
Maryland Secretary of the EnvironmentRobert Perciasepe notified county officials yesterday that his agency would pay $300,000 to dredge 14,500 cubic yards of muck from the creek's headwaters above the Pekin Road bridge.
The county now has the green light to apply for dredging permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, said U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th,who acted as an intermediary after negotiations broke down between state and federal regulatory agencies.
County Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, a Pasadena Republican, said the county will ask permission to dig out 7 feet of soil polluted by runoff from roads, yards and construction sites, and back fill the creek bottom with clean sand.
Residents have complained for more than a decade about the rotten-egg smell caused by hydrogen sulfide gases belched from the creek bottom.
State environmental officials initially wanted to dredge only 3 feet and back fill later only if necessary. Because environmental dredging is new and experimental, state officials said they wanted to see if more conservative methods would be enough to save the creek.
Federal regulators refused to issue permits unless the additional work was done.
John Goheen, a Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman, said the additional work had been estimated to cost as much as $500,000. The state's decision to move forward was made easier when the Southern Maryland Dredging Co. agreed to do the work forless, he said.
Southern Maryland has been dredging the lower partof Rock Creek since November.
State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Democrat from Brooklyn Park, said the state also saves money doing the additional dredging now, rather than later.
"It would cost twice as much to bring a contractor back later," he said.