Air around the terminal and drinking water lines that run through the contaminated ground also are monitored regularly.
The community group Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, or BUILD, had petitioned the Baltimore County Circuit Court six years ago in an attempt to force Honeywell to do a complete cleanup of chromium contamination at the Dundalk terminal and at several other sites around the area. But the court left it up to the port, the company and state environmental regulators to work out the best option for protecting the public while also minimizing disruption of port operations.
"BUILD worked hard for a permanent cleanup; the court decided otherwise," said Rob English, the group's lead organizer, last week. "Containment is a temporary fix, and BUILD is concerned about the long-term health and safety of the workers, the community and the Chesapeake Bay and Inner Harbor."
Honeywell's Morris said the parties plan to drill more wells around the terminal to monitor ground water for contamination, and would continue to check up on and fix any breaks in the pavement "for as long as we need to do it." The pipe re-lining could take five to 10 years, he added.
MDE's Tablada said state regulators would require more remediation work if any evidence turned up that chromium was getting into the environment.
Neighborhood leaders seem satisfied with the plan, though they have insisted on being allowed to monitor the work themselves as it goes forward.
"This seems to be the most sensible option,'' said Larry Bannerman, a longtime resident of Turner Station, a predominantly African-American community in Dundalk that is nearest the terminal. The 59-year-old retired technician for Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. is a member of the community's "conservation team," which will keep tabs on the project.
While excavating all the tainted dirt might eliminate the threat of contamination, Bannerman said he was persuaded that "taking it out and exposing all that material and hauling it across Baltimore in dump trucks would be more risky than leaving it in place and lining it."
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