Gilchrest to address aldermen

Congressman to speak before council votes on bay dumping resolution

`Fighting it every step'

McMillan invited fellow foe of dredge disposal to appear

January 07, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

A leader in the battle against open water dredge dumping in the Chesapeake Bay is scheduled to speak against using a proposed site near the Bay Bridge at the Annapolis city council meeting Monday.

Eastern Shore Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican whose 1st Congressional District includes Annapolis and part of Anne Arundel County, will describe what he believes will be the environmental impact of the state's plan to dump 5,000 barge loads of mud and silt in a four-mile stretch near the Bay Bridge -- called Site 104 by federal officials.

The council is scheduled to vote on a resolution expressing its opposition to the dumping.

"Congressman Gilchrest has taken the lead in fighting the governor's attempt at doing this," said Alderman Herbert M. McMillan, a Ward 7 Republican who introduced the resolution at the council's meeting last month.

The Maryland Port Administration is proposing to dump about 18 million cubic yards of mud and silt, which would be dredged from the bay's shipping channels, at the site near Kent Island. The site, about 78 feet deep in some places, was selected from 475 potential sites and had been used as a dredge dumping site from 1924 to 1975.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and several other Maryland representatives in Congress have supported the plan, but Gilchrest, as well three federal agencies and a group of citizen activists, have fought it since spring.

Cathy Bassett, Gilchrest's press secretary, said McMillan contacted the congressman a few weeks ago and asked him to appear before council.

"[Gilchrest has] been fighting it every step of the way,"

Bassett said. "This is another opportunity for him to raise awareness."

McMillan said other speakers are scheduled to address the council before the aldermen vote.

"We just want to take the opportunity to express the city's disagreement with what the governor wants to do," McMillan said. "We're along the water -- we use the bay."

McMillan said dumping at the site was ended in 1975 because studies revealed that 40 percent of the dredge migrated from the location and threatened the ecosystem.

Opponents of the plan also fear "nutrient loading" -- an increase in nitrogen and other nutrients in the water when mud in the bay is disturbed. The nitrogen encourages growth of algae, which decompose, depleting the water's oxygen.

Supporters say dredging is needed to keep ships from running aground and to protect the economic interests of the bay. The site, known as Kent Island Deep, was chosen after a five-year study.

Port officials have said they would minimize the effects by not dumping during warmer months when marine life is spawning.

McMillan said he understands the state's need to find a place to dump spoil but thinks there are better locations with less environmental impact.

"We're not against dredging," McMillan said. "We're against dumping in the bay."

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