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New Health Concerns Over Chemicals In Parts of Patapsco River

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE COUNTY (WJZ) — Toxic danger. There are new health concerns in one Baltimore County community because of pollution from Baltimore’s once proud steel industry.

Mike Hellgren breaks down this new report and how concerned people should be.

New research finds long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in the Patapsco River around Sparrows Point can increase your risk for cancer. A revealing port administration study that cost half a million dollars also found eating crabs and fish caught near Coke Point carries a health risk.

All of that concerns Art Cox, who makes his living running the Anchor Bay East Marina.

“It’s been an issue since I’ve been here,” he said.

For the Chesapeake Bay Foundation it’s the unknown that’s frightening. The group is calling for the testing of waters near Sparrows Point and Coke Point where more people fish, swim and boat.

“Do they freak out if they get water on them? No, but again what this says to us is that we really need to have a clear understanding so those residents have a better sense of what those risks are to them,” said Dr. Beth McGee, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The study found arsenic, lead and mercury in the sediment off Coke Point. Steel was manufactured there for decades but state environmentalists say it’s no cause for alarm.

“These risks are projected out to 30 years of exposure. Someone who’s just recreating in the area in general should not be concerned about this,” said Secretary Bob Summers, Maryland Department of Environment.

Dale Plumber tows recreational boats and is exposed to the water everyday.

“My thought is anything they can do to clean the water up and make it better would be better for everybody,” he said.

Cleanup is coming but could take years. It’s snarled by several lawsuits on who should pay for it.

“Quite frankly, we think if they don’t get satisfaction in the courts then the federal and state agencies should step up to the plate and do those studies themselves and then go back and get compensated from the responsible parties later,” said McGee.

Coke Point is an area that is not accessible to the public by land. New owners bought the property in March.

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