In response to pressure from CBF, the City of Baltimore agreed to upgrade its ancient sewer pipes by 2030. Photo Credit: Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff

Standing Up for Your Health and Our Clean Water

Too many Baltimore residents suffer damages to their health and property from air pollution, sewage backups, and water pollution.

Because the city's century-old sewer pipes can't handle heavy rains, sewage sometimes washes into homes, local streams, and the harbor. Baltimore has been subject to a court order to rebuild the system since 2002, but it badly missed its 2015 deadline and has recently agreed to a new pact with a 2030 deadline.

In response to pressure from CBF Attorneys Paul Smail and Alayna Chuney, a new wastewater agreement will require the city to address sewage backups into residents' homes. Providing representation to citizens who often do not have a voice, attorneys Smail and Chuney will monitor the progress to ensure that the terms of the new agreement are met.

On the ground in Baltimore, Chuney has also joined Healthy Harbor Program Manager Carmera Thomas to ensure accountability and transparency for Baltimore's citizens through a public stakeholder process.

The city is besieged with air pollution from local and outside sources of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), the precursor of lung-damaging ozone. NOx also pollutes our waterways when rain washes it from the air. The 31-year-old Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Company (BRESCO) trash incinerator is a major contributor, lagging far behind similar plants in reducing NOx emissions.

CBF Attorneys Ariel Solaski and Alayna Chuney took on BRESCO with modeled air flows to estimate local and regional concentrations of NOx from BRESCO; investigated feasibility of a nitrogen-extraction process for the plant's exhaust gases; and determined the human health impacts associated with BRESCO's emissions. Based on this research, CBF Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost submitted comments to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), telling the agency to reduce BRESCO's pollution and suggesting a potential solution. A recent draft regulation from MDE indicates that the agency has gotten the message. CBF will continue to monitor the progress and recommend legal action if necessary.

The Chesapeake Bay Airshed is 570,000 square miles—compare that to our 64,000 square-mile watershed. It's nine times the size of the watershed! Pollution fouling our Bay is coming from a lot farther away than most would think. Our litigation team is working on critical air pollution issues.

Sidebar Photos: 1. Tom Pelton/CBF Staff, 2. Krista Schlyer/iLCP, 3. Robert Miller.