Officials unveiled a $2.7 million final plan last week for restoration of natural habitat damaged by the April 2000 oil spill at the former Pepco power plant at Chalk Point in Aquasco.
The plan, which was announced at a news conference Thursday at Greenwell State Park, mirrors a preliminary proposal except it adds a recreational improvement in Calvert County.
"In the draft plan, there were six recreational use projects," said Jim Hoff, a representative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We've added a seventh project."
The additional project will not increase the cost of the restoration effort because officials were limited to the $2.7 million budget, Hoff said.
The added facilities will be built at Nan's Cove, north of Broomes Island, Hoff said. "Right now there is a small parking area and an existing pier," Hoff said of the site, "and we are going to construct a ramp from the pier down to water level to allow people to put canoes and kayaks" in the water. Motor boats also will have access to a water-level platform.
Implementation of the plan, which will be funded by Pepco and pipeline operator ST Services, is scheduled to start next spring.
James Potts, vice president of safety and environment at Pepco Holdings Inc., said the company was "delighted to have gotten to this step. We've been working toward this for some time. . . . We can get on with the business of restoring the river."
The spill that fouled the Patuxent River and its tributaries occurred April 7, 2000, after a flaw in the pipe delivering fuel oil to the Chalk Point plant went undetected because consultants misread inspection data.
Pepco sold the Chalk Point plant in 2000 to Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC, which reopened the 51.5-mile pipeline after completing repairs that included testing the integrity of the pipe and installing equipment to monitor the oil flow through it.
In June, based on the Chalk Point experience, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended industry-wide reforms for owners and operators of pipelines.
The habitat restoration plan announced Thursday was developed under the federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which requires the parties responsible for a spill "to return injured natural resources and services to pre-spill conditions" and "to compensate the public for the loss of natural resources and services from the time they are injured until they are restored."
Though the addition of the Calvert project is the most significant change in the restoration plan, Hoff said, officials made other adjustments to address concerns. For example, officials agreed to test sand that will be brought in for "beach enhancement" to check for pesticide levels that would be harmful for terrapin nesting.
"In the final plan, we responded to each and every comment we received, making changes where we felt it was warranted," he said.
Other restoration projects in the plan include:
* The creation of five to six acres of intertidal wetlands adjacent to Washington Creek, a tributary of the Patuxent River just south of Chalk Point.
* The creation of nearly five acres of oyster reef sanctuary in the Patuxent to address injuries to fish, shellfish, birds and bottom-dwelling organisms.
* Restoration of nesting habitat for the ruddy ducks that migrate to the Chesapeake Bay.
* The creation of two river camping areas, reachable only by canoe or kayak, to compensate for lost recreational opportunities because of the spill. One camping area would be north of Golden Beach; the other would be at Milltown Landing.
* Establishment of a kayak and canoe launch at Greenwell State Park that would be accessible to the disabled.
* A package of recreational improvements at Maxwell Hall Natural Resource Management Area, Forest Landing, the Kings Landing boardwalk and Cedar Haven Park.