The Spark

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

Maryland:
Children poisoned for 31 years

Apr 30, 2007

At the end of April, Maryland Department of the Environment officials ordered the city of Baltimore and a private company to investigate the arsenic in the soil of a playground used for baseball games.

Tests in the soil showed a concentration of 2200 parts per million. The level found is at least 100 times what is considered safe: it can cause brain and heart damage and even cancer.

This contamination is not new – it was already known in 1976 when Allied Signal stopped manufacturing at a site next to the park. Allied had used arsenic in manufacturing pesticides there. When the state tested the area, it found the soil full of kepone, a dangerous chemical used in pesticides that had already been banned. The soil also had very high levels of arsenic.

State officials closed the park, only to reopen it later in 1976.

Twenty-one years later, in 1997, Allied put a concrete cap over the industrial area next to the Baltimore ballpark. Nothing else was done.

For 31 years, since 1976, kids continued to play in the park.

It’s only coming out now because a big company, Honeywell, wants to use the site. Honeywell, which owns Allied, wants someone else to pick up the bill for the clean-up.