WASHINGTON – Opponents of a plan to dump dredged material in open waters of the Chesapeake Bay will launch an ad campaign this weekend against the use of Site 104 north of Kent Island.
Television ads, to be unveiled Friday in Annapolis, are the first salvo in a proposed $250,000 campaign against the state’s plan to dump an estimated 18 million cubic yards of dredge from the Port of Baltimore’s shipping channels.
Opponents charge that dumping at Site 104 would increase sediment, worsening water quality in the bay.
The campaign is being funded by Citizens Against Open Bay Dumping. The goal is “to educate the public through the media,” said its secretary E.J. Pipkin.
State officials say the ads are not likely to change their position on Site 104. They have said that use of that particular parcel is the best option for the continued dredging which must go on to keep bay shipping channels navigable.
“They (opponents) are entitled as a group to do whatever they see fit,” said Jack Cahalan, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation. “(But) a TV ad campaign has no bearing on the process.”
Science will have the last word, Cahalan said. The state is waiting for an Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental impact statement on the site, which is expected to be released next month. An earlier draft clearing Site 104 was withdrawn in July after the Corps was pressured to take a closer look at dredge disposal alternatives, such as upland sites.
The ad campaign was welcomed Thursday by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R- Kennedyville, a strong opponent of the use of Site 104 who said residents of the area need to be alerted to the proposal.
“The broadcast will raise their awareness to an important issue in their back yards,” Gilchrest said.
The ads will show “people who care about the bay” and have a connection with the cause, voicing their concerns about Site 104, said Steve Sandler, whose Sandler and Innocenzi Productions developed the spots.
The 30-second ads will start running Sunday on Baltimore-area broadcast channels and some cable TV stations. Sandler said they will be aired between news broadcasts and Sunday morning public affairs programming.
Pipkin said his group hopes the ads will motivate citizens to contact the governor and tell the administration that there are other alternatives for the dredging problems. He said money for the project was raised through corporate and individual donations and by selling merchandise from the organization.
The campaign “sends a strong message to the state that the citizens group is very serious and willing to commit a lot of time and resources to the issue,” said Tony Caligiuri, an aide to Gilchrest.