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Harbor Point developers answer EPA

The developer of the $1 billion Harbor Point project said it has prepared a new air monitoring plan to evaluate levels of toxic hexavalent chromium before and during construction, according to new documents filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment.

One week after both agencies rejected a detailed design plan addressing the environmental impact of the 27-acre development located between Harbor East and Fells Point, Beatty Development Group LLC filed its responses in a 79-page document with three appendixes and other details including a stormwater pollution prevention plan, a health and safety plan and an engineering evaluation.

Harbor Point, located on the northwest branch of the Patapsco River near the Inner Harbor, is the planned site of a new regional headquarters for energy giant Exelon Corp.

In a cover letter, a Beatty Development executive requested approval of the revised design development plan by Nov. 18.

A construction schedule attached to the documents showed a projected start date of January 2014.

Among the many points addressed was the new air monitoring plan, flagged by the EPA and MDE in a disapproval letter dated Oct. 31 that contended that preliminary air samples were not adequate and were performed in ill-suited locations around the Inner Harbor. The new plan was to be submitted to the agencies under a separate cover.

The response from Beatty Development was filed a day before a public meeting was scheduled to be held on the environmental concerns at the site of the former Allied Signal chromium plant.

Also included in the response are methods to safeguard against soil and groundwater displacement at the site as about 1,000 pylons are drilled through a protective cap placed over the toxic chromium waste by Honeywell International Inc., which acquired Allied Signal. Beatty officials said Honeywell devices and pumps will be used “to control the water table which will prevent a general rise in the water table as piles are driven.”

Should a stop-work order be needed, the document specified the chain of command from the Beatty Development workers to the MDE field representative and then to the EPA project coordinator.

The developer also said construction of a four-lane bridge extending Central Avenue to Harbor Point — and concerns over drilling pylons and bridge supports into the cap and a slurry wall surrounding the peninsula — should be handled by the city’s Department of Transportation, in charge of constructing the bridge.

The developer will add a barrier and a structural platform to the area to ensure that the chromium cap at the bridge site will be protected during construction of the Exelon tower, the document said.

The Beatty Development team has said it must pierce through the cap in order to anchor the 23-story Exelon Corp. office tower and other structures at the site. Construction of Harbor Point is expected to last at least a decade.

Allied Signal manufactured chromium at the site until 1985. Four years later, a consent decree was signed by Allied, EPA and MDE. A $100 million cleanup of the site began in 1990 and included placement of the protective cap over the toxic hexavalent chromium.

Baltimore City Finance Department officials said this week that the first part of a $107 million tax increment financing bond sale for the Harbor Point project has been delayed because of the ongoing environmental plan negotiations.

The TIF bonds were approved by the City Council this summer after months of controversy and debate with some council members and community residents.