Opportunities emerging for reuse of dredged materials
Public invited to comment on draft procedures
As water flows toward the Chesapeake Bay, it takes with it earth, clay and silt that accumulates in the bottom of the Patapsco River, which is also the Port of Baltimore’s main shipping channel.
Mud and silt also move up the Bay toward Baltimore with the incoming tides.
The result is that the Port needs to regularly dredge and maintain the channel at a 50foot depth to accommodate large ships and remain competitive with other East Coast ports.
Every year, the state dredges up five million cubic yards of material, which is enough to fill the Ravens Stadium more than twice over, said port officials during a March 2 visit to the North Point Peninsula Council in Edgemere.
Of that total, 1.5 million cubic yards comes from the Baltimore Harbor channels, which include the side channels that serve the Port’s public Dundalk and Seagirt marine terminals as well as the privately run Tradepoint Atlantic terminal and the Sparrows Point Shipyard.
The Port can’t dump the dredged materials outside the Baltimore Harbor area, which means over time, it will run out of places to deposit the material unless it finds ways to safely and economically reuse some of it.
The Port and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) are in the process now of inviting public comment on draft pro- cedures in a document called “Innovative Reuse and Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Draft Guidance Document.”
A public meeting to present the draft guidance and answer questions is set for Tuesday, April 25, at 6 p.m. at MDE’s headquarters at 1800 Washington Blvd. in southwest Baltimore.
Public comments will accepted through Friday, May 26, 2017.
“It is hoped that this document will encourage further innovation in the private sector to use dredged material in environmentally-beneficial ways or as useful products in the marketplace,” according to MDE.
Depending on the nature and content of the material, dredged materials can be used for projects such as :
• temporary and final cover for landfills • building foundations for roadway beds and parking lots or to build embankments
• reclaiming formerly contaminated brownfields sites
• rebuilding shorelines and providing habitat for wildlife and birds
• adding to building materials, such as wood chips, lime, gypsum, Portland cement, compost or biosolids
• using as topsoil for landscaping in public areas.
Hart Miller island off the North Point peninsula no longer accepts dredged materials, which leaves the Masonville and Cox Creek containment facilities on the west side of the Patapsco River that will eventually run out of room.
Meanwhile, there is currently no established system for regulating the use and reuse of dredged materials.
“While Maryland’s statute defines both beneficial use of dredged material and innovative reuse of dredged material, the statute and regulations are silent as to how to implement innovative reuse projects,” according to the Innovative and Beneficial Use Regulatory Interagency Work Group’s final report dated June 15, 2016.
“Specifically, there are no programmatic or regulatory frameworks or screening criteria in place to guide the application, approvals or permitting process for initiating innovative reuse projects in Maryland,” the report said.
The 81-page draft guidance document outlines policies and procedures for reusing dredged materials as a safe and effective alternative to disposal.
“[It’s about] increasing the state’s options and developing different ways of managing the materials,” said Matthew Rowe, acting director of MDE’s Science Services Administration.
The draft document also includes proposed technical screening standards to test for chemicals and other ingredients in dredged materials.
“Our role is we provide the technical guidance to protect health and the environment,” Rowe said.
The guidance document is posted at on MDE’s home page at www.mde and on the Port website at www.mpa.maryland.gov//greenport/dmmp.
Questions can be directed to Rowe by emailing him at email@example.com or writing to Matthew Rowe, Acting Director, Science Services Administration, 1800 Washington Blvd., suite 540, Baltimore MD 21230.
Barges take sediment dredged from the bottom of shipping channels to containment areas.
Port officials brought samples of sediment to a meeting of the North Point Peninsula Council on March 2. The state will soon post a plan for public comment on ways to re-use dredged material.