FAIR OR FOUL? THE BALL IS IN THE WATER

Posted on February 25, 2015 by Richard Sherman

As a result of a change in ownership of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Red Sox, the AAA farm team for the Boston Red Sox, there are plans to move the team to Providence to a proposed new stadium hard by the Providence River. Apparently, the proposed stadium will be designed so that home runs hit over the right field wall will land in the River - comparable to home runs hit over the right field wall at the San Francisco Giants’ ball park into McCovey Cove in San Francisco Bay.

However, there is growing opposition to the proposed stadium location, among other things.  It is not inconceivable that opponents will take whatever steps they deem necessary to stop the use of this valuable urban redevelopment land for the stadium.  And the discharge of “discarded equipment” or “solid waste” – i.e, a baseball hit over the right field wall – into the River without a permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) could lead to an enforcement action against the team that no one would anticipate or want.

Such a notion is not as far-fetched as one might surmise.  I was involved in a matter a few years ago concerning skeet shooting activities where the “clay” targets were sent out over the water to be shot.  RIDEM took the position that such activities – even with non-toxic shot and biodegradable targets – required a permit under the Rhode Island Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations. And such permit was ultimately denied for various reasons.

So the team owners might want to talk to RIDEM about a permit for home run baseballs landing in the River. Given the proposed design of the stadium, this would not be a random occurrence but could occur on a regular basis due to the stadium design. Would the stadium be viewed as a point source? Otherwise, the team (or its fans) may have to patrol the River in a boat before and during each game to retrieve the home run baseballs or even put up a net on top of the wall.



Comments (2) -

John Hall United States
2/25/2015 3:40:25 PM #

Clearly a new baseball exemption to NPDES permitting is required in Section 402 (akin to the antitrust exemption it already has) - alternatively, Congress could clarify that baseballs are not pollutants, they are valuable mementos to be retrieved by eager fans (not unlike the recycle versus disposal issue under RCRA).  Moreover, the balls will float such that water quality is not actually altered.  Lastly, I would note that bats and pitchers arms are not "discrete conveyances" so, the issue of "point source" is still at play.

Emma United States
3/2/2015 9:25:10 AM #

there is considerable difference between thousands of skeet clays per weekend to how many home run hits.......

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