Judge temporarily halts dredging near shipyard

December 19, 2006|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,sun reporter

A Baltimore County judge ordered yesterday the owners of the Sparrows Point shipyard to temporarily stop dredging in the Patapsco River.

Circuit Court Judge Dana M. Levitz granted a temporary injunction to stop contractors from removing sediment in the river near the Key Bridge at the request of a group of Dundalk-area residents also opposed to a liquefied natural gas terminal planned for the site, according to a lawyer for the group.

The Greater Dundalk Alliance's LNG opposition team alleges in its court filing that the dredging is stirring up toxins that will harm nearby residents and the Chesapeake Bay.

The community group, however, must post a $750,000 bond by today to cover the company's revenue lost by not dredging, in the event that the contractors are allowed to resume the work.

Lawyers for SPS Limited Partnership, the company that operates the shipyard, declined to comment after the proceedings.

The temporary injunction expires in 10 days.

The work to remove 600,000 cubic yards of sediment began Dec. 8 in a 160-acre area of the Patapsco River, according to the opposition team's court filing.

Barletta Willis LLC, the shipyard owners, received permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Port Authority in October 2004 to dredge the shipping channel to accommodate vessels at a ship repair facility and to dispose of the dredge at Hart Miller Island. The permit expires in January.

AES Corp., the company that plans to build the LNG terminal at the shipyard, wants to dredge in the same area to accommodate tankers carrying LNG. AES plans call for dredging 2.5 million to 4 million cubic yards of material.

Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan announced in September that the state will not extend the dredging permit issued to Barletta Willis, in part because LNG opponents fear that, if the channel is dredged, AES will have an easier time receiving federal approval for its project.

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

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