USA: Harbor Team Searches for Dredged Material Disposal Site Location

Baltimore’s harbor is a major port for the United States east coast. As such, it is essential to keep the shipping channels dredged to the appropriate depths to allow the ships easy access to places like the Seagirt Marine Terminal. The Port of Baltimore is a major economic hub for the State – providing jobs in the immediate Port area that have a tremendous domino or trickle-down impact on thousands of other jobs throughout the State. The Port of Baltimore is under the auspices of the Maryland Port Authority (MPA) within the Maryland Department of Transportation.

In 2010, the Port of Baltimore was also at the top of the list for the Cruise Industry for the largest increase in cruise liners docking in the Port.

In order to keep the shipping channels dredged to the correct depths to allow cargo and cruise ships to easily sail the Chesapeake Bay and enter the Baltimore Harbor, there is a necessity to have appropriate locations to dump or store the dredged material. Federal and State laws outline when, where and how dredged materials are handled for environmental protection. Dredging and Dredged Material Disposal guidelines are outlined for such things as where the materials can be stored or dumped; confining, semi-confining and unconfined disposal sites; combining dredged materials; transportation of materials; turbidity of water during dredging and overflow weir, grander boom and Silt Curtain Performance; as well as Hydraulic and Mechanical Dredging Production Rates and Hydraulic Pipeline Dredging Designs.

Maryland’s dredging processes are outlined in the Chesapeake Bay Journal: Dredge Spoil Disposal Solution list which outlines “The State of Maryland’s Strategic Plan for Dredged Material Management” plan which calls for a mix of overboard disposal, upland placement and island construction options.

Currently the Harbor Team is searching for a location for the next disposal site since the Hart Miller Island dike closed after full capacity was reached in 2009. The Harbor Team is currently researching a list of eleven (11) possible sites, a dwindled down list from twenty-three proposed site. The Team is scheduled to have an open comment meeting on April 14 to hear input from Marylanders who may be impacted by the suggested sites.

Meeting location is being scouted at this time.

The Harbor Team will eventually make its recommendations to the “Management Team” which will in turn make recommendations to Maryland’s Executive Team. The ultimate decision is made by Maryland’s Governor. Some of the current site suggestions would require action by the State’s Legislature to enact or repeal specific State laws.

In the next article, a list of the twenty-three proposed sites will be identified, highlighting the eleven sites that have moved forward to “Fact Sheet” status.

By Anna Renault (examiner)


Source: examiner, March 28, 2011