Council OKs Baltimore as 'nuclear free'

March 03, 1992|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writer

The City Council last night approved a series of measures making Baltimore a nuclear-free zone, which would more closely regulate the transportation of nuclear materials and ban the disposal of radioactive waste within the city's boundaries.

The measures, which supporters said enjoy the backing of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, also prohibit the production of nuclear weapons or their components in the city and discourage the city from purchasing goods and services produced by nuclear weapons makers.

The package of bills was pushed by the Nuclear Free Baltimore Committee, which was supported by a broad array of individuals and groups, including former Maryland Democratic Rep. Parren J. Mitchell, the Maryland Waste Coalition and Citizens for Fair Housing.

"Half of this is symbolic, but the other half could have real significance in Baltimore," said Chuck Johnson, a director of Nuclear Free America and a spokesman for the committee. "It, for instance, prevents Baltimore from disposing of radioactive waste in its landfills and incinerators."

Mr. Johnson explained that low-level radioactive waste currently can be disposed of with no federal interference.

In passing the measure, Baltimore joins several other Maryland jurisdictions that already have declared themselves "nuclear free." Among them are Takoma Park, Garrett Park, Sykesville and Wilde Lake. Also, the cities of Chicago, Oakland, Calif., and Jersey City, N.J., have declared themselves "nuclear free."

Under the law passed last night, the city would request that the state inform it whenever nuclear materials pass through city boundaries. The city also would review the routes used by nuclear haulers.

"We just want to make sure that what goes through goes through safely," Mr. Johnson said.

The nuclear-free zone measures were introduced by Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who was disappointed that similar legislation did not make it through the council during its past session, which ended in 1991.

She quickly reintroduced the measures during the current council session.

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