Asbestos found under Port Deposit’s Main Street
PORT DEPOSIT — The Maryland State Highway Administration is examining next steps after the recent discovery that there is asbestos pipe underground along North Main Street.
Robert Rager, SHA spokesman, said Wednesday that the pipe was discovered during digging operations a few weeks ago to install a new stormwater network as part of an effort to control flooding in Port Deposit during high rainfall events.
“We were right at the point to make the connection to get the outfall in place,” Rager said.
Rager said the crew from Pessoa Construction knew right away what they found when they discovered the pipe about 300 feet from the basketball courts.
“Plastic, iron, copper and PVC pipe is all easily recognizable,” Rager said.
This pipe, however, looked like none of that, so a sample was tested and the result came back positive for asbestos.
“The pipe is empty,” Rager noted. “We don’t think it is serving anything.”
At this point, they have no way of knowing why the pipe was there, or how much of it is under North Main Street.
SHA is spending $2.3 million to redirect stormwater and keep what runs out of town from flowing back. A series of outfalls, or check valves, are to be set in place along the Susquehanna River and connected to the stormwater system. Work began in March.
The preparation work included a visit from Miss Utility, a utility location service, but even that equipment can’t anticipate what could be found when digging begins under the streets, Rager said.
“We’re finding things every time we put a shovel in the ground,” Rager said of SHA’s many projects in Cecil County and across Maryland. “The utility issues under that roadway are just unbelievable.”
When Rising Sun went through a streetscape project more than a decade ago, there were numerous times when the project would come to a halt when another underground fuel storage tank was located. Clint Bowers, who was the commissioner overseeing the project at the time, expressed frustration and wondered if Rising Sun had been built on a tank farm.
Rager said the Port Deposit project will resume in October when the risk of endangering the submerged aquatic vegetation in the Susquehanna River ends.
“We still have to run our pipe through there,” he said of the area where the pipe now lies under packed earth. “It’s in the way of what we need to do.”
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