The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Pollution Everywhere

Aug 30, 2021

Maryland is a good example of what is done by state, federal and local officials to avoid cleaning up pollution.

After 10 years of community protests, Bear Creek, next to a former Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point, is about to be added to the Superfund list for clean-up. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just got around to this action. Bethlehem Steel management had free rein to pollute the air, water and land for its more than 100 years of existence. And the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) also let Bethlehem Steel do whatever cost the company the least amount of money.

On Maryland’s Eastern shore, chicken processors, led by Perdue, have been allowed to handle their manure in ways that make it the largest single source of nitrogen polluting the Chesapeake Bay.

Over the past 3 years, the MDE conducted 2,000 inspections, but only found six companies that didn’t follow the rules on polluting the air, water and land. Yes, only six! Yet the Chesapeake Bay is full of dead zones; the air in summer around Baltimore is a polluted haze; the creek added to the Superfund is hardly the only dead one; and the water system is allowed to spill waste into rivers and streams after storms.

To add insult to injury, the MDE followed the recent trend and declared it would carry out its actions in a manner consistent with “environmental justice,” writing it would “implement environmental laws in a manner that reduces existing inequities and avoids creation of additional inequities.”

MDE supposedly has jurisdiction over Baltimore City as well, and has cited the trash incinerator called Wheelabrator multiple times. What did the city officials do? Extended Wheelabrator’s contract for 10 more years. A recent report points out that Baltimore recycles 2% of plastic, while Wheelabrator burns half of it, releasing carcinogens into the air, along with other toxins.

Whether it is the federal, state or local officials, talk is cheap, while pollution is deadly.