By Mike Hellgren

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.

Comments (35)
  1. williejoe says:

    Anybody who think that for years the various ownership that dumped toxic metals into that river & that it wouldn’t effect the fish, crab marine life in general is crazy. Beth steel in the name of progress, greed & profits raped that land, the military complex including the Pentagon was complicit & a willing partner. Thousands of workers, fishermen & innocent children have suffered with neurological disorders & cancers. I wouldn’t eat anything caught out of that river.

  2. Michael D Lauri says:

    Isnt it funny how Baltimore says in the upcoming future they think that they will be able to make the inner Harbour safe for swimming , they are willing to invest like 20 mil into the project of the taxpayers money to do this. And then you see news like this . Will they continue ?

  3. PAUL E. MICELLI says:


  4. whitewater says:

    i am glad my father had a job at beth steel people complain about the pollution it least we had food on table and were not homelss

  5. whitewater says:

    people blame beth steel for everything what about power plants who pollute the air are you going to turn your lights off because of the pollution dont eat the fish and you will be alright pick up after your dog they pollute the harbor with ecoli

  6. white water says:

    hunger is painfull

    1. sheriff says:

      So is a guilty conscience.

  7. tylerjake says:

    Maryland is one of the highest cancer states in the nation. WOW, they’re just putting it together now?!

  8. Nobody says:

    Just don’t drink the water, When that plant opened up some odd years ago, and hired people, Those people lived long lifes. I know people in their 70’s and 80’s who worked at the plant all their lives still alive to this very day. The plant is what buil;t Baltimore County to what is is now. that was the number one money maker. So now that the Plant is up and running again and people are going back to work and off of unemployment, someone wants to cry over toxic fumes? What about the cars that drive our streets every day? I am sure they put off more than the point. Leave it be. Let the point be a big power house of steel once again. If people are afraid of a little smoke in the air, move to a different county and stop crying.

    1. sheriff says:

      Yeah, Nobody, Baltimore county today at the east end is a section eight Black s…..t hole grubbing bunch of welfare bunnies & white punk thugs gaming the system. Thanks a lot for nothing.

  9. SewBizy says:

    Why are there questions about who will pay for cleanups being argued-when us taxpayers are already paying. Our tax dollars are now paying for the effects of illesses, diseases, pollutions and MORE brought on by not taking the initiative and cleaning it up NOW! All the expensive studies (also paid by our tax dollars) have shown that preventive care is ALWAYS less costly. Government Officials, whether on the the local, state or national level, should use the results of previous studies and start the cleanup NOW and go after the quilty party at the same time…No one can tell me that the “suits” doing the argueing are the same people that will be doing the “blue collar” clean-up jobs. PLUS, It would put our unemployed back to work instead of the quilty party hiring some outside MD firm.

  10. sheriff says:

    Sewbizy, Some things are so obvious, like the nose on your face. I can look at the former Beth steel & see that it’s a dead zone. I sailed my boat close to shore once & it looked like it was a river of Jiffy Lube. The former owners & management if you can find them should be brought to trial but that won’t happen because our government was complicit when the Vietnam war which we should never have been in was building all sorts of weapons by the U.S.Military complex. Disgusting, just like Don Rumsfeld is enjoying his home on the Miles river with neighbor Cheney all because of us dumb trusting taxpayers. I don’t blame the men who worked there , they had no dog in the fight but these two creeps & the owners are the guilty parties.

    1. Barb says:

      Wait a second “I don’t blame the men who worked there” ? Excuse me, but did you not fault a poster’s father above for “taking the easy way out” and working at Bethlehem Steel? When in the hell is WJZ going to ban your sorry a$$ because every comment you make is nothing but vile insults!

      1. Billiam says:

        Barb – let me offer you some assistance with these posts. Pay no attention to the Sheriff, or Andy, or williejoe as the intelligent people on here (and I include you in that group) have learned to not feed him/her any kind of ammunition whatsover. This individual can’t wait to get on here and start ranting and raving about things in such a way that when it comes to trying to have an intelligent conversation with the individual, it often breaks down into this person using slang obscenities to get the point across. Save yourself a lot of trouble and don’t even offer the time of day.

      2. Barb says:

        You’re probably right- although I’m inclined to believe all “three” are the same person- at least I’m hoping so. I’d hate to think that much lunacy is spreading around.

  11. Jo Davis says:

    Sounds like some pretty legite concerns to me dude.

  12. JW says:

    Pave the whole friggin” place over and put up Condo’s and Boat docks for the people like the sheriff . We need a few more sail boats with those Obama stickers on it.

  13. Money says:

    “Clean-up is coming but could take years. It’s snarled by several lawsuits on who should pay for it.”
    I just like how much money is being spent on who should be paying for the cleanup. Lawyers always win, regardless of the disaster or problem. Too bad all the money being spent on the lawyers will not be redirected to help solve the problem.

  14. JW says:

    Dig a big hole…put in the lawyers…….and THEN Pave the whole friggin” place over

  15. Stan the Man says:

    I think the best plan is to let the Port clean up the most toxic stuff at Coke Point, cap the rest with cleaner material dredged from the shipping channels, and then finally use the site as a shipping terminal. Win-win-win for Maryland taxpayers and businesss!!!

  16. JW says:

    They fix up dump areas like Canton……..fix up the waterfront areas around there. It has more waterfront area then most communities in the area but they have become now proven toxic waste dumps from big business. Clean it up…put in marina’s,condo,etc.

  17. Nobody says:

    It would take decades to pave and turn into a port or marina.

    @Sheriff – I ma aware of the section8 bunnies on the east side. The plant died off and the people who worked there moved which allowed the county to push the trash into the east side. All the hard working people shipped out.

    1. JW says:

      Don’t forget our south of the border spanish speaking friends.

      There are still a few blue collar hard working people in the area trying to battle the trash.

  18. Billiam says:

    You’re right, JW & Nobody – the sheriff/Andy/willie joe can’t see his hand (whatever color it is) before his face (whatever color it is). When Baltimore City decided to revamp the high-rises, they shipped everyone to the closest county possible (what do you know – Baltimore County east side). Baltimore County is home to some of the hardest working people I know who take great pride in their home ownership and the neighborhoods in which they live. Battling the trash is just that – a battle – and it will be one that will be fought long and hard. When Bethlehem Steel was at its peak, eastern Baltimore County was thriving. So Sheriff, take your boat (dinghy, I would imagine) and go sail away somewhere else. You know nothing about the majority of people in Baltimore County and given the choice, they would want to have nothing to do with you. One more thing – yes, I know you’re getting ready to type something that has just initials in it, which will prove my point even more to anyone else who reads this post.

  19. sheriff says:

    Billiam & JW, Guess you two have struck up a marriage so to speak. amazing how a s…..t storm of truth brings all the trash in one corner. When the people of Baltimore county in the early seventies decided to take the money & run, (Bust up their neighborhoods) & move out because the Hebrew realtors put a fear in their ears & they had made plenty of coin @ the mills, they mobed on out to places like Fullerton, Joppatowne & made white Ghetto’s out of those s….holes but that’s another story Bill boy. Were you even born then? Back to Balto cty & they made a deal with the city mainly because the county was mostly liberal anyway. The city couldn’t have done squat without Federal & county consent because the city of Balto borders on several counties, Balto, A.A. & Howard. Explain that? I wasn’t even living in this area but traveling from the upper east coast of N.Y. I observed typical patterns of black & white behavior & a lot of Jewish B.S. I have never or would ever live in the city of Balto except on my boat, (not a dingy) for six months while my house was being built over. Billiam, not that it really matters who’s dic or bank account is bigger at this stage of my life but I believe you sound frustrated & fragile. I could use many descriptive adjectives but let’s just leave it alone as I am bored with you & your holier than thou approach. Have one of your family members get raped by a Spoonie N****R & then come talk.

    1. Billiam says:

      Sheriff – at this “stage: of your life, you came to a wetting contest with an eye-dropper. I’m observing a typical pattern of your posts which have to have asterisks and “descriptive adjectives” in order for you to get your point across. But, rest assured, a large part of Baltimore City citizens wouldn’t want you living here. Your hypocrisy is clearly evident in your posts, but as you are bored with me, I wish I could same the same because I like reading what I hope I never sound like in the future. The good people of Baltimore county and Baltimore City know who they are and without a doubt, you are not part of the equation, just part of the problem. Good life to you, Sheriff/Andy/willie joe.

      1. Barb says:

        Who the hell would comment on EVERY news story of EVERY day of a city he doesn’t even live in? Why is he not working? Why does he have no family, friends, hobbies, or anything at all to do? This is all very disturbing to me…. whoever is behind those comments.

  20. sheriff says:

    Billiam, On occasion, I will annoy you but I find comfort in the fact that you enjoy my posts. Rugged around the edges, nonetheless I speak the truth from world experiences & believe me pimples if you could find a few good people in Baltimore city like the Lord said: He would save Sodom & Gomorra. Never could, never will. Baltimore co. is running a close second. I live where it’s white, a delight & can breathe the air. Tell your new best friend Tin Lizzy Barb, that I can do what I please as I took early retirement @ 56 & never have to work again. I did some planning for the future unlike you stiffs & have four graduated university children. Suck on them lemons.

    1. Barb says:

      LOL- okay….

      Still, nothing explains why you are on a city’s news website that you don’t even live in and apparently despise, all day, every day, commenting on EVERY news story and arguing with every poster. NO 56-year-old acts that way. I do not believe that’s your age. If it is, your wife’s probably divorced you long ago and your 4 “university children” have probably run from you far into the hills to escape your mental disorders. Keep on keepin on with your invented tales of a grand, successful life, hon. It must let you sleep at night…

      1. Billiam says:

        While I don’t know if you’ll ever be “my new best friend,” please don’t fall into the trap, and for the love of God, don’t drink the lemonade!” The lemons, though, were very good – especiall at the Flower Mart. Have a good one!

  21. Billiam says:

    Well, there’s not much more to say – except each time someone has something to bring to the table and it is a comment you don’t like, you’re very quick to say things like Hebrew realtors, Jewish B.S., white ghetto’s and other comments which really bring nothing to this conversation or post (by the way, when you use that apostrophe, it’s supposed to show possession; it doesn’t come into play when typing a plural (as in ghettoes or ghettos). You took early retirement – so what? You have four graduated university children – so what? You’re not the only person to have taken early retirement or graduated a child or children from a university. Your “Lord” and mine, I doubt, are the same, but you wouldn’t understand why from your posts. Enjoy your retirement as you should – but I bet your former co-workers are enjoying it even more.

  22. r scharwath says:

    Sorry to here about the polution in the river. I live in Kenner Louisiana just up the Mississippi from New Orleans. Here we don’t eat anything that comes from the Mississippi river due to polution. Good luck on any clean up.

    ronnie .s

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