Fly ash problem in Solley is hardly settledThe editorial...


July 25, 1999

Fly ash problem in Solley is hardly settled

The editorial, "Burying the fly ash debate" (July 16), unfortunately sounded more like Baltimore Gas and Electric Co's public-relations spin than balanced, well-researched journalism.

Had the writer attended any one of the 17 hearings before three different judicial bodies or contacted one of the numerous experts, lawyers, governmental agency representatives or participants for the community, he might have been better prepared to make a judgment.

1) BGE disposed of not 4 tons, as erroneously stated, but 4 to 5 million tons of fly ash or an environmentally sensitive site full of springs and wetlands flowing toward Nabbs Creek, a Chesapeake Bay tributary. The site is bordered by not one but two residential communities, Solley and Chestnut Hill Cove.

2) The editorial relies on "tests by state and federal agencies that gave the substance (fly ash) a clean bill." That reliance is woefully misplaced. The responsible federal agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), determined only that fly ash did not have to be regulated as a "hazardous waste." The EPA based this determination on the following factors after a nationwide review of fly ash sites and an analysis of current and anticipated disposal trends:

* Fly ash disposal sites were not located in close proximity to residences; in the BGE situation, however, the Solley and Chestnut Cove communities are within 100 to 200 feet of the BGE disposal site.

* Fly ash disposal sites were not located in close proximity to drinking water supplies; in the BGE situation, however, numerous drinking water wells are within a few hundred feet of the disposal site.

* EPA relied on regulation under the individual states'solid waste disposal regime, in the BGE situation; Maryland dropped the ball and released the BGE disposal operation from all permit controls.

3) During the 17 hearings, BGE's reliance on a natural clay layer to protect the Anne Arundel County aquifer was proved invalid. Almost a third of the site does not have a clay layer. Hence, the requirement by the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals for a clay liner under the site, a requirement upheld by the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County.

4) BGE's statement concerning its plan for the disposal site is not irrevocable. The communities have no guarantee that BGE will not wake up one morning and resume fly ash operations on the Brandon Woods/Chestnut Hill site.

Yes, BGE and its neighbors should work together, but there remains a pressing need for remedies and regulations on the tons already deposited at Brandon Woods.

This is not a case of a buyout such as Wagners Point. No one can buy out a ZIP code or an airshed. Those who discharge contaminants into our air and water must be held responsible and they must be strictly regulated.

Jane Pumphrey Nes, Glen Burnie

The writer is with the Coalition of Communities and Citizens Against Flyash.

No thanks for rise in cigarette costs

On behalf of the senior citizens who are hooked on cigarettes and living on a fixed income, I would like to thank Gov. Parris N. Glendening for raising my cost of living in Maryland by $1,095.50 a year with a 30-cent-a-pack increase on cigarettes.

I knew that if enough people quit smoking, he would have to find some way to make up the loss of taxes from cigarettes. What better way than to raise taxes on the poor and elderly?

Bill Williams, Glen Burnie

New statue symbolizes valor and courage, not hate

I am writing in response to Eleanor Johnson's letter published July 18, regarding the Benjamin Welch Owens monument that was recently dedicated in Lothian ("County executive should condemn statue").

First and foremost, I would like to thank Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens for attending the dedication ceremony in which my husband and I were participants.

Had Ms. Johnson attended, she may have a better understanding of why the monument was erected and why so many Marylanders and Americans are proud of their Southern heritage.

She would have seen what a respectful, educational and positive day it was for Anne Arundel County. Period music was played, women wore period attire and men wore in authentic military uniforms.

In attendance were Col. W.R. Mumford, Ret., chairman of the Anne Arundel County Trust for Historic Preservation; O. James Lighthizer, former county executive; Gregg Clemmer, author and chief historian of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Leonard Blackshear, president of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Inc. Mr. Blackshear gave an inspirational talk, stressing the importance of family connections and pride in one's heritage -- all heritages.

Our family is proud to say we are native Marylanders. My husband's family dates back as far as Revolutionary times in Anne Arundel County. Both my husband and myself had family who fought for the South during the War Between the States.

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