Many of you may have read the summary of the open house discussion concerning the proposed move of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s production facilities to the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in the December 5, 2019 Greenbelt News Review (this issue is available online as a PDF at https://www.greenbeltnewsreview.com/issues/GNR20191205.pdf). If you haven’t read it, it provides a good overview of the issue.
This Open House, attended by about 20 Greenbelt residents, was held by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Open House included a display of posters that were designed to provide the public with more information about the proposed move and the planning process for the project. Staff were available to answer questions. It is also part of a scoping process, which started with a notice of intent in the Federal Register published November 15, 2019. The scoping process includes a period for public comment which began November 15 and will run through December 15, 2019. Residents are urged to comment. You may comment online, by email, or in writing. Emails must be sent by 11:59 PM on December 15, 2019. Letters must be postmarked by December 15, 2019.
The email address is BEP-EIS@usace.army.mil
Address your letter to:
Harvey Johnson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Programs and Project Management Division, 2 Hopkins Plaza, 10th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201
Greenbelt residents who attended the meeting raised the following questions and concerns:
- Were other sites looked at? The answer was that around a 100 sites were looked at. Some were Federal property and others were not. There was a real cost incentive to go with a Federal property. The location in relation to commercial airports and interstate roads was very important and a skilled workforce was required. BARC met these requirements.
- How large will the Bureau of Engraving be? About 105 acres which will be located off of Poultry Road and backing up to Odell Road, about two miles north from the gate on Research Road.
- Why is there not a poster showing a design of the new building? The building will not be designed until after the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is completed and the decision is made to actually build at this site. NEPA requires Federal Agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. To implement NEPA’s policies, Congress prescribed a procedure, commonly referred to as “the NEPA process” or “the environmental impact assessment process.”
- What is wrong with the existing site in DC? A 2018 GAO audit identified the need to upgrade the BEP’s machinery, and as the space in the DC location is small, it would be very expensive to reconfigure that building to house the new equipment. Building a new facility will result in a 30% savings in the cost of replacing the machinery. Also large trucks are not allowed in downtown DC.
- What will BEP produce? Currency and notes.
- How many shifts will there be? There will be three shifts: one starting at 6:30 a.m., a second at 2:30 p.m., and a final shift at 10:30 p.m.
- Where will the waste water from the plant end up? It will end up in the Potomac River.
- What will happen to forest? Under the Clean Water Act, forest buffers will be taken into consideration.
- What is the timeline for the project? As mentioned above, the Notice of Intent was published November 15, 2019. The project is currently in the Public Scoping Process which includes public comments and ends December 15, 2019. A draft EIS will be published in the Fall of 2020. This will be followed by a 45-day comment period. The final EIS will be published in the Spring of 2021 followed by a 30-day Public Review. The Record of Decision will come during the Summer of 2021. The construction would begin in 2021 and last into 2022. The plant would be partially functioning by 2025 and fully operational by 2029.
- Residents expressed the following concerns:
- The effects on nearby people, wildlife, and habitat,
- The effect on BARC wetlands, streams, creeks and ponds,
- The effects of night lights on wildlife and nearby populations,
- The amount of waste water that will emit from the plant and its effect on habitat, specifically on bodies of water, as a source of erosion and on the environment in general,
- The lack of easy access to public transportation for employees,
- The impact of additional traffic on already heavily congested roads,
- The impact of truck and other traffic on neighborhood roads such as Research Road and other local roads which will likely be used as a shortcut to the I-495 entrance,
- The overall effects of large trucks on BARC and local roads, and the noise and air pollution from these trucks,
- The loss of agricultural open space,
- What may be just the first of more development of this type on BARC land, and
- The future impact on the agricultural mission of BARC.