Port awarded $1 million grant to clear the air
A top-level environmental administrator visited Turner Station on Thursday to see firsthand a community that hopes to benefit from recent attempts by the Port of Baltimore to rid the air of diesel engine pollutants.
Mid-Atlantic Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin visited the state’s Dundalk Marine Terminal on Thursday to announce a $978,302 grant awarded to Maryland to help reduce diesel emissions.
Community leaders in Turner Station had invited him to visit last year, and he decided to talk them up on their offer, said Gloria Nelson with the Turner Station Conservation Teams.
“His visit to Turner Station is not just about the money, but also the recognition,” said Turner Station resident Larry Bannerman about the visit.
Turner Station, which faces Bear Creek, and Carnegie Plat facing the Patapsco River near the Dundalk Marine Terminal, have a long history of living with pollution created by the Bethlehem Steel plant, the BGE power plant in Sollers Point that used to burn coal and the port, he said.
The nearly $1 million grant is the fourth awarded to Maryland by the EPA’s Clean Diesel program, which provides grants to facilities around the country working to reduce diesel emissions. To date, the state has received about $5.7 in grants through the program.
The national grant program is authorized by the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, which seeks to reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxides found in diesel exhaust that contribute to ground level ozone.
The pollution is especially hazardous to young children with developing lungs, contributing to high rates of asthma and other medical problems.
In Maryland, the Maryland Environmental Service administers the Clean Diesel grants on behalf of the Maryland Port Administration, said Richard Scher, the port’s communication director, in an email.
One of the grant recipients this year is the state-owned Canton Railroad serving the port in east Baltimore.
“The grant will provide funds for installing start-stop technology on switcher locomotives which will reduce the amount of time an engine spends idling, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions,” Scher wrote.
Also sharing in the grant are private companies who use diesel-powered equipment such as forklifts, top loaders and yard tractors to handle cargo. The companies, who stand to benefit from cheaper fuel costs in return for their investment in new equipment, include BalTerm, Ports America Chesapeake and Domino Sugar.
A representative from BalTerm, which handles forest products at the Dundalk Marine Terminal, did not return a call for comment by press time about how the grant will affect its operations.
The companies are required to provide matching grants, and they are reimbursed after the older equipment is replaced or repowered, Scher wrote.
Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said at the port event on Thursday that, in addition to the EPA grant, $200,000 will be available to reduce diesel emissions from dray trucks, which are trucks that move cargo in and out of the port to connect with longdistance carriers.
The ongoing Port of Baltimore grants to reduce diesel emissions don’t promise a total solution because on-theroad trucks and construction equipment also contribute to the problem, but they are definitely “a good start” in the right direction, Bannerman said.
“For those who live next door to it, [it’s about] every little step that wasn’t there yesterday,” he said. Follow me on Twitter
A container mover is one of the many vehicles at the port that run on diesel engines.