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Harbor Point air monitoring plan approved

The air construction monitoring plan for the $1 billion Harbor Point development has been approved by state and federal environmental agencies, paving the way for limited construction to begin.

Photos of the Harbor Point site from the Legg Mason Building. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Photos of the Harbor Point site from the Legg Mason Building. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment sent letters to the project’s developer, Beatty Development Group, on Thursday announcing their decision.

“During construction, all air monitoring will be done under the supervision of both EPA and MDE, and they will make frequent visits to the site,” Marco Greenberg, Beatty’s vice president of development, wrote in an email.

He said the company is committed to keeping residents informed and will be posting air monitoring results to the development’s website, harborpointbaltimore.info.

Construction activities in preparation of penetrating a 5-foot-thick cap meant to prevent chromium leakage on the site can begin, but the cap cannot be punctured until the agencies complete a more comprehensive review of data. The cap must be punctured with beams so the planned 23-story regional headquarters for energy giant Exelon Corp. can be built as part of the mixed-use development.

Pollution issues at the site date back to the 1800s, when it was home to the Baltimore Chrome Works Facility. Chromium ore was processed on the site until 1985. Chromium particulates at excessive levels are toxic.

The project has been criticized by some residents because of environmental concerns as well as the use of tax increment financing to help pay for the development.

The air construction monitoring plan was developed after air quality was monitored on the site for 15 days earlier this month. The background air monitoring program was tracked 24 hours a day for chromium particulate and dust levels at the Harbor Point site, the National Aquarium and the Baltimore fire station in Old Town.

“Based on consultation with the U.S. Environmental Agency and after review of the Pre-Construction Air Monitoring Program data, MDE will determine the particulate action level. This level would be used during construction to trigger dust suppression activities, including work stoppage as described in the [Standard Operating Procedure for Response Actions and Notifications to Action Level Exceedances],” according to Maryland’s letter to the developer.

MDE CAM Approval 3-27-14