Dredging the port is crucial to economy, won't hurt the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 27, 1999

Dredging the port is crucial to economy, won't hurt the bay

When it comes to dredging the shipping channels leading to Baltimore, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest seems to be a reincarnation of the late Rep. Clarence Long of Baltimore County Mr. Gilchrest has used the same rhetoric, the same overblown fears of contamination to gain the limelight ("Putting spoil in the bay opposed" July 21).

But this time Mr. Gilchrest has been able to pass language in the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that would delay, if not stop, the use of Site 104 in the upper bay to dispose of the dredged material.

Study after study has shown that dumping dredge at this site would have little or no impact on the bay's ecology. The material to be dumped is cleaner than that area's bottom sediment is now. No new nutrients would be added to the bay.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has been monitoring the project from the beginning and has approved it, will monitor and test the water throughout the dumping.

Mr. Gilchrest knows better than to unleash environmental bogeymen. He knows the value of the port of Baltimore to the state's economy. It's a pity that he apparently isn't willing to explain the realities of economic life to his constituents.

Fortunately, the rest of the Maryland House delegation, especially Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, seems to understand. I hope the House does when the measure comes to the floor.

M. Sigmund Shapiro

Baltimore

The writer is chairman and chief executive officer of Samuel Shapiro & Co. Inc., a Baltimore maritime company.

Those who care about the future of the Port of Baltimore must take strong exception to a ban on disposing dredged material in the bay that the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed.

Maritime companies and their employees rely on the port's stewards to ensure that Baltimore's shipping channels are properly maintained. The port's long-term dredging plan is vital to many in our area whose work depends on maritime commerce.

The port's stewards have made sound decisions in the past -- decisions that have provided for a deep channel and good facilities. It would be a terrible mistake to undo those decisions.

George J. Thomas

Baltimore

The writer is deputy junior vice president of Evergreen America Corp., a local shipping company.

Congress shouldn't judge value of scientific studies

The Sun's article "House votes 355-0 to condemn findings of child sex abuse study" (July 13) reported congressional reaction to a recent study that showed that some victims of a childhood sexual abuse suffered few long-term consequences.

Ironically, the research in question provides hope for victims of child sex abuse victims. Is it not good news that many of them go on to enjoy happy and productive lives?

Discovering that sexual contact with a child may not invariably be harmful does not mean that such acts are acceptable. Sexual contact with children is not wrong because it will definitely be harmful; it is wrong because it could be harmful -- and therefore no adult should ever subject a youngster to such risk.

What is troublesome is Congress' political condemnation of legitimate scientific research and debate. This is a disturbing step backward to an earlier, less-enlightened era.

Science should continue to pursue truth. If research shows that some sexually abused children go on to do well, we should celebrate, not condemn, such a finding.

Dr. Fred Berlin

Dr. Kate Thomas Baltimore

Defender of disabled shouldn't be punished

I think it's a shame that Linda Shepard-Gebhart, the woman charged with disturbing the peace after blocking the car of a driver who parked illegally in a handicapped space, faces fines and possible jail time ("Woman charged in Harford parking incident," July 22).

I can't even count how many times I've witnessed perfectly able people whip into handicapped parking spaces, just so they can get the closest space.

Last time I checked, ignorance and selfishness were not classified as disabilities.

Rebecca A. Bartholow

Hunt Valley

Republicans still threat to abortion rights

Tom Teepen's Opinion Commentary article "Don't be misled by right wing's silence on key abortion issues" (July 16) is a wake-up call for all of us who have become rather ho-hum about that issue.

It seems painfully clear that if we elect a Republican president, his or her Supreme Court appointees will be anti-choice.

That would make it almost certain that the court would strike down the Roe vs. Wade decision that guaranteed abortion rights -- or weaken it so much that abortions would be unavailable, except perhaps to save the mother's life.

The Republican ideology of less government intervention does a complete turnabout when it comes to the most personal decision a woman and her family can make -- the one concerning a problem pregnancy.

Congressional Republicans' recent votes against more regulation of HMOs are a clear indication of their lack of concern for women.

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