Today, Congressman John Sarbanes joined Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger and Kweisi Mfume (all D-Md.) in announcing that the Bear Creek Sediments site – adjacent to Sparrows Point – has been added to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund National Priorities List. The list serves as the agency’s basis for prioritizing cleanup funding and enforcement actions. The addition of the Bear Creek Sediments site allows the EPA to begin conducting a more comprehensive investigation of the site and reviewing its eligibility to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup. The restoration of the site, which releases contaminants that pose a significant human health and environmental risk to Baltimore County, is important for the health, safety, and revitalization of surrounding communities.
“As we continue working to build a brighter economic future for Sparrows Point, we must also address the environmental harms of its past. Recognition of Bear Creek as a Superfund site will further help rehabilitate this area and transform it for future use. We fought to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to create opportunities like this to advance environmental justice and revitalize our communities,” said the lawmakers. “We will continue working to bring federal funding and infrastructure opportunities to our state.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s historic investment in the Superfund Remedial Program and reinstatement of the Superfund chemical excise taxes addresses legacy pollution head-on and has made a dramatic difference in our ability to tackle threats to human health and the environment by helping to clear the backlog of sites awaiting funding.
Superfund cleanups have been proven to provide health, environmental, and economic benefits to the community through reductions in birth defects and blood-lead levels among children, increases in property values, and transformations of previously tarnished properties into retail businesses, office space, public parks, residences, warehouses, and more.
The Bear Creek Sediments Site consists of a minimum of 60 acres of contaminated sediments in the waters of Bear Creek, near its confluence with the Patapsco River along the northwestern shore of the Sparrows Point Peninsula, six miles southeast of downtown Baltimore. Bear Creek is a tidal surface water body adjacent to the 3,100-acre Sparrows Point Peninsula, which was the site of steelmaking and shipbuilding industries. The Bethlehem Steel Corporation (BSC) was the primary owner and operator for much of the Sparrows Point operational history between 1887 and 2013. More than 100 years of steelmaking left behind a legacy of contamination on both land and in the waters surrounding the Peninsula.