BALTIMORE - Right now, the site of the old Allied Chemicals chromium plant doesn't look like much, but give it time and you could see a new building home to the Exelon Corporation and others. But it's what's underneath the site that stirring up neighborhood controversy.
"Is it dangerous? Is it going to be dangerous? Most likely. The big problem here is that nobody has done this before. And so, why should I be a guinea pig?" said Stelios Spiliadis, owner of The Black Olive Restaurant across the street.
Spiliadis says he's been fighting the project since the start, saying it's not worth the risk.
"I felt like David dealing with Goliath and I knew that Goliath had all the power in the world," he said.
But the Maryland Department of the Environment says building on top of the old chromium plant isn't a danger. When the 'okay' for the project was given last year, they said air quality testing must be done before and during construction.
MDE sent a letter to the development group last week giving the go ahead for the pre-construction testing. Crews got to work two days later. They're doing the testing in three sites across the city: on the old chemical plant, near the aquarium, and at the Baltimore City Fire Station in Old Town.
"The chromium is a serious contaminant, and it's buried many feet deep there. So, we will be monitoring to make sure it doesn't release into the air," said Horacio Tablada, Director of Land Management.
Testing the air quality before hand gives them a baseline to compare during construction. They're checking the dust particles every two minutes.
But Spiliadis says he's having scientists do their own monitoring. "We will put it just across this building, so we know, at least, you know, when we're going to die," he said.
The MDE and EPA approved the air monitoring, which will continue for about another week. They expect construction to begin in the coming months.