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instantcoffee69 t1_jdxrcin wrote

I love Baltimore, but we should just be honest with everyone: Back River is in no shape to take this on. With on going operation issues, untreated discharge, explosions, the facility isn't doing great.

Back River barely functions with regular waste water, let's not stress the system. It simply can't handle it safely.

If the contractor didn't get prior authorization to discharge into Back River, that's a personal problem. See the Seinfeld episode with the muffin stumps.


EthanSayfo t1_jdxura8 wrote

Tbh, it kind of seems like Norfolk Southern was trying to get this stuff into others' hands as fast as possible, ideally without local communities becoming aware of it.

One article I read says the water is/was slated to come in as early as this Thursday. This is a very real-time situation.

I am glad Scott took this action today, but honestly I would have preferred to see this happen in an even more preemptive way. We all know that Back River is a... wait for it...

Shit show.


Matt3989 t1_jdycjm3 wrote

>Tbh, it kind of seems like Norfolk Southern was trying to get this stuff into others' hands as fast as possible,

I'm not supporting Norfolk Southern, but why wouldn't they? They're not a hazardous waste storage company. What else would you expect them to do other than pay EPA approved companies to dispose of it?


EthanSayfo t1_jdyh6gj wrote

Find a facility that hasn’t had a string of safety and mismanagement issues?

It literally exploded the other day, if I’m not mistaken?

Don’t even get me started about how much damage was done to EPA under the previous administration. Do I expect them to maintain rigorous licensing standards? It strikes me that the plant should be on a watch list at this point, if anything.


Matt3989 t1_jdyllfk wrote

  1. it wasn't a DPW managed facility that exploded, it was caused by Synagro's centrifuge machines.

  2. Norfolk Southern isn't sending this to Back River, they're sending it to Clean Harbors. Back River would have fuckall to do with this treatment, the waste water back River receives would be treated like any other sewage.

Maybe if you have some evidence that Clean Harbors isn't meeting EPA guidelines before discharging to Back River you might have an argument, but it sounds like you have no idea what's actually happening.


EthanSayfo t1_jdynovs wrote

I don’t trust Back River to make a proper assessment of what they get back from Clean Harbors before taking the water, and either putting it into the system properly, or improperly as the case may be.


Matt3989 t1_jdz82w4 wrote

So I take it that your opinion is that Clean Harbors should not be operating here at all? Or is there something specific about this waste that you're concerned about?

Edit: Lots of downvotes here, so for those of you who believe that Clean Harbors won't properly treat this waste, our politicians included it seems, why should they be allowed operate at all? What other harmful substances are they discharging to Back River?


unusuallylethargic t1_jdzvd05 wrote

I mean from one of the articles (I dont remember which one) they said they will treat the waste water to get it down to EPA acceptable levels of vinyl chloride (4 ppm) and PFOS/PFAS (4 ppt) and then discharge it into the sewers, which might technically be 'safe' for humans but I can't imagine would be good for our already struggling Harbor and Bay. Not to mention the risk (no matter how small) of something going wrong (like, oh, say, the same thing that caused the disaster in the first place in ohio) and having another ecological disaster here. There's just no need to contaminate other communities with this stuff; its already in ohio so just treat it there.


Matt3989 t1_jdzvjkt wrote

That's literally what they do all the time, that's their entire business.

So if you think it's a problem now that you've read a headline about it, should we be shutting them down completely?


unusuallylethargic t1_jdzwo8r wrote

If you read my comment my concern isnt that the company isnt capable of treating the waste its that the 'acceptable levels' of toxins in the effluent are not acceptable to me. We don't have any detectable vinyl chloride in the bay or harbor right now, why should we accept that 4ppm will make it in? It may be safe for humans technically, but do you really think that won't have any ecological effect?


Matt3989 t1_je01yzd wrote

>We don't have any detectable vinyl chloride in the bay or harbor right now

How can you claim that? We've shown it multiple times, in multiple areas of the Bay, over the last 30 years:

Frog Mortar Creek, near Martin State Airport (2014)

EPA found 19 OCPSF and 12 Petroleum Refining facilities as the worst offenders in the Chesapeake in 2004, Vinyl Chloride was a subcategory of note within OCPSFs

Chesapeake Watershed Chemical's of Concern (2000)

Indian Acres on the Sassafras in 1996

I saw a few other sources published by Williams and Mary in 1992, but the scans didn't have OCR and were tough to navigate.

>If you read my comment my concern isnt that the company isnt capable of treating the waste its that the 'acceptable levels' of toxins in the effluent are not acceptable to me.

Again, this facility specializes in this, it's within their purview, they've probably handled Vinyl Chloride or other Chlor-Alkalis before (and likely worse on a regular basis), you just haven't been paying attention because it hasn't made national news.

It's totally fine if you've now decided that this is a concern, but then why are we just stopping this single occasion? The industrial waste treatment plant should be completely closed, right?


unusuallylethargic t1_je05qlo wrote

I really have two responses to this, first, yes of course I can claim that, because a small handful of VC incidents over 30 years of course doesn't contradict my point that we don't currently have any VC in the harbor or bay. Anyway, second more in depth response:

Yes, there have been a few incidents where vinyl chloride has been detected in small areas in the watershed. These are brief points in time and not a consistent presence of VC. This is quite different I would think than dumping a huge amount of effluent that still has significant amounts of it into, effectively, the bay. And to be clear, one of your links doesn't show a vinyl chloride leak, it lists VC as a chemical of concern. Another shows that it was detected at just over 1 ppb in a very small area. The Frog Martin link says that was an area of concern because, in part, vinyl chloride was found in the area (at a concentration of 0.7 ppb). The sum of all of this is that the detection of virtually any vinyl chloride in any area in the Chesapeake watershed has been a Big Deal. So how is your conclusion that discharging effluent at 4 ppm into the sewers is totally cool?


Matt3989 t1_je081jv wrote

>So how is your conclusion that discharging effluent at 4 ppm into the sewers is totally cool?

EPA limits are for vinyl chloride 2ppb. The highest concentration in the waste that was meant for here was 62ppb (or 0.062ppm). So yeah, pretty sure they weren't going to discharge at 4ppm...

>This is quite different I would think than dumping a huge amount of effluent that still has significant amounts of it into, effectively, the bay.

I think your sizes are off, 600,000 gallons is not a "huge amount" in this context.

My point is that you clearly have no idea what you're talking about. You've read a headline and are now outraged, and after this week you'll go about your life unaware of all the waste water that Clean Harbors treats and discharges to the sewer system.


EthanSayfo t1_jdxudlb wrote

I spent around an hour calling various elected officials' offices today. It sounds like a lot of people did same. I'm very happy to see this response from the Mayor.

I simply do not trust the local processing plant involved, period. I don't trust that they will make a full, safe and proper evaluation of the "treated" water coming from Clean Harbors.

They need to find a top-notch facility to work with, not one that is already experiencing a bevy of issues when it comes to their day-to-day operations.

It's also extremely concerning to hear about the major contamination of latex chemicals into a Delaware River tributary that happened just north of us, affecting a huge portion of the Philadelphia area and millions of residents. The "buy water, don't buy water, buy water, don't buy water" messaging from local officials is god damn ridiculous.

We need to push back on corporations in a big way in this country. I've made a career of selling and doing business, with essentially every type of organization across the spectrum of affiliations, politics, interest groups, brands, etc.

I have no inherent problems with capitalism and a market economy, coupled with using the proceeds of that efficient system to make investments in society (for the sake of the citizenry) and broad-based social welfare programs. What we live in today is not even close to a properly-functioning version of that. It's much closer to oligarchical corporate fascism.

Please engage with your officials. It's so easy to call their offices and take 2 minutes to speak to an aid, or leave a quick voicemail. It really does work, if enough people do it. We really do run things – corruption and malfeasance thrive when we are convinced that this isn't the case. But we really do have the numbers.

Baltimore City Mayor's Office of Constituent Services: 410-396-4900

Maryland Rep Lookup:

Senator Chris Van Hollen Contact:

Senator Ben Cardin Contact:

US House Rep Lookup:


Cody_in_Baltimore OP t1_jdxnik8 wrote

>Mayor Brandon Scott announced Monday the city will not allow a Baltimore contractor treating shipments of toxic waste collected at an Ohio train derailment to discharge the treated water into the city’s wastewater system.
“Make no mistake — I stand against any efforts that could compromise the health and safety of our residents, and the environment,” he said, adding that he extends sympathy to the East Palestine community but that he must protect local residents.
>In a letter sent to officials at the Baltimore Department of Public Works last Wednesday, Clean Harbors said it expects to handle an initial load of 675,000 gallons of rainwater, stream water and collected water near the derailment site. It is set to depart by train on Thursday for the company’s industrial waste processing plant in the 1900 block of Russell Street near Interstate 95.
A Clean Harbors representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Thisteamisajoke t1_jdxojqa wrote

Good, make the rail company store it at their greedy CEO's house.


TIL02Infinity t1_jdymzn9 wrote

>Alan Howard Shaw is the chief executive officer and president of Norfolk Southern, a Class I railroad operating freight trains in the United States. He has held the CEO position since May 1, 2022

An Olympic size swimming pool holds 660,000 gallons of water. Alan Shaw can afford to build an Olympic size swimming pool in the backyard of his estate and store most of the 675,000 gallons of contaminated water there. He can then use the remaining 15,000 gallons for showering and to water his plants and lawn.


brownshoez t1_je03o8r wrote

Nice work to the citizens and politicians that stood up to this


TheCaptainDamnIt t1_je0nb8h wrote

Cool, but I never did hear one scientific reason why the plant that does a thing all the time, shouldn't do the thing it does just this one time, and will still do in the future.


luchobucho t1_je3ght6 wrote

People don’t understand science and basic math ?


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InsaneFromThePain t1_je0px28 wrote

I just heard that though wastewater will not be coming here