The massive explosion behind the chain- link fences of the CSX Transportation Coal Piers was heard for miles across Baltimore on Dec. 30 last year. It shook the earth beneath Curtis Bay residents’ homes, breaking windows, spreading a new layer of coal dust across the neighborhood and was even caught on video.

Tiffany Thompson, a native of nearby Cherry Hill, moved to Curtis Bay three years ago. The 49-year-old mother and former educator has not only noticed a difference in her physical health — she’s been having trouble breathing these days — but the traumatic experience of a loud explosion has forced her to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

“I often talk to my children and say, if we hear a boom too close, grab the cat, grab the dog, we’re going to just run outside into the school field,” Thompson said during a visit to her home on a hill above the coal pier.

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