Port awarded $1 mil­lion grant to clear the air

The Dundalk Eagle - - OPINION - By VIR­GINIA TERHUNE vter­hune@ches­pub.com

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

@Vir­gini­aTer­hune.

PHOTO BY VIR­GINIA TERHUNE

A con­tainer mover is one of the many ve­hi­cles at the port that run on diesel en­gines.

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