By Alex DeMetrick

CHEVY CHASE, Md. (WJZ)–It’s small, it’s very rare and it might just slow down construction of the purple line light rail route.

Alex DeMetrick reports it’s an endangered species found only in Maryland.

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They are slender survivors of what once ran wild. The small streams that feed into Rock Creek Park are the only places on Earth where the Hay’s Spring amphipod is found.

“They’re little crustaceans, little fresh water shrimp kind of species that live in the purest, cleanest water we have,” said John Fitzgerald, Chevy Chase attorney.

It’s easier to find the Hay’s Spring amphipod on the Internet than it is at the edge of underground springs.

But it’s there and it’s a federally endangered species facing a potential new threat: large-scale construction of the proposed purple line.

Like Baltimore’s light rail, the purple line will run above ground between New Carrollton and Chevy Chase.

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“The purple line will entail a fair amount of construction, digging up a line along 16 miles, including a hazardous waste site very near here,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald is a Chevy Chase attorney with a background in environmental cases. He does not believe enough study has been done on construction runoff that could pollute water critical to the amphipod.

“And hazardous waste in particular are things you want to avoid spilling onto endangered species,” Fitzgerald said.

Those concerned about the impacts of the purple line aren’t trying to stop it.

“If they can do this right, they can have the line and the species too. But they haven’t shown they can do it right yet,” Fitzgerald said.

And for something that grows little more than an inch, its uniqueness might be big enough to protect its only home on Earth.

Those backing the tiny crustacean say they will pressure federal and state agencies to see plans on how it will be protected, or they will force the matter in court.

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