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Local News

In the Media: State Public Defender Calls for Suspension of Surveillance; Md Fines Coal Power Plants

Chalk Point Generating Station located in Maryland on the Patuxent River.
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chalk_Point_Generating_Station.jpg">Cyndy Sims Parr</a>
Wikipedia Commons
Chalk Point Generating Station located in Maryland on the Patuxent River.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From the Baltimore Sun: Under Armour to locate new, 1,000-employee distribution center at Sparrows Point

"Under Armour plans to open a massive distribution warehouse on the site of the former Sparrows Point steel mill that will employ 1,000 people and serve as the company's national hub to fulfill consumers' online orders.

"The Baltimore County center, scheduled to open in the summer of 2018, will be the apparel and footwear company's second distribution hub in the area — it employs 1,200 at a center in Curtis Bay — but the first devoted to fast-growing Internet sales.

"The Sparrows Point peninsula location — used by Bethlehem Steel for more than a century — was selected over sites in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio, said Neil Jurgens, Under Armour's vice president of corporate real estate. In addition to Curtis Bay, Under Armour maintains distribution centers in Mount Juliet, Tenn., and Rialto, Calif.

"Under Armour, which employees nearly 14,000 people internationally, liked the Sparrows Point site partly because of its proximity to its headquarters and the Curtis Bay warehouse.

"'There's that history of Bethlehem Steel. There is brick and stone and wood and steel,' he said. 'It's the underdog mentality — hungry and humble — and our spaces reflect that.'

"As Under Armour's plan for the Port Covington campus is presented, the company provided a controlled glimpse of the converted Sam's Club in South Baltimore. 

"The Under Armour site is being developed from scratch by Tradepoint Atlantic, a joint venture of the local firm Redwood Capital Investments and the Chicago-based liquidation and redevelopment firm Hilco. Formerly known as Sparrows Point Terminal, Tradepoint bought the shuttered steel mill for $110 million in 2014 with the goal of transforming it into a campus of port, logistics and light-manufacturing uses."

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From the Baltimore Sun: State public defender’s office calls for immediate suspension of Baltimore police surveillance program

"The state Office of the Public Defender has asked the Baltimore Police Department to stop filming citizens from the sky until the public is briefed on the program and defense attorneys are given access to the footage.

"The public defender also wants to know how evidence gathered by the recently disclosed aerial surveillance program has been stored, accessed and used in the prosecution of criminal defendants.

"The office said the program should be shelved until there are 'in-depth conversations' about how it works, and police should stop analyzing footage unless they have "prior judicial authorization in the form of a search warrant or equivalent court order."

"Baltimore Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar made those requests in letters delivered Monday to Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.

"'We are requesting that this surveillance program be suspended until such time as public hearings can be held and a clear avenue of discovery and access to data by defense attorneys is established,' Finegar wrote to Davis.

"She asked Mosby to join the public defender's office in the request that the program be halted until a 'clear mechanism' for handling the footage as evidence is established.

"Finegar wrote that it is 'imperative' that defense attorneys be given access to the footage, which she said could help to exonerate their clients."

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From the Baltimore Sun: Maryland fines coal power plants $1 million for polluting Potomac, Patuxent rivers

"Maryland is fining the owner of two of the state's largest coal power plants $1 million for dumping too much nitrogen into the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, one of the largest penalties state environmental regulators have levied in years.

"The Chalk Point Generating Station in Prince George's County and Dickerson Generation Station in Montgomery County were found to have violated the Clean Water Act from 2010 to 2013. As the power plants scrubbed more nitrogen from emissions into the air, they were discharging more of the harmful nutrient in their wastewater, state environmental officials said.

"Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles called it a 'stiff penalty' that signals the state is holding polluters accountable, something some environmentalists question.

"'It's a strong statement that environmental laws must be respected,' Grumbles said.

"'A million dollars is a significant fine,' said Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, whose office helped negotiate the settlement. 'I think this is appropriate.'

"But one water-quality advocate who helped alert regulators to the violations said he thinks the penalty is not enough. A group of environmentalists threatened to file a lawsuit against the power plants before former Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration stepped in with its own lawsuit in 2013.

"'I think this is a slap on the wrist,' said Fred Tutman, the Patuxent Riverkeeper. 'It's a lot of money, but not in contrast to the extent of the violations.'

"The consent agreement, filed in federal court Friday, also requires the plants to invest $1 million in technology that would remove more nitrogen from their wastewater and spend another $1 million on water-quality improvement projects in the Patuxent and Potomac watersheds."

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