Copper Refinery Fined For Polluting

February 06, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

The state Department of the Environment has fined a northern Anne Arundel County copper refinery $13,000 for violations of anti-air pollution laws, including the release of visible emissions.

Inspectors witnessed visible emissions, an indicator of potentially dangerous pollutants, escaping the smokestacks at the Cox Creek Refining Co. on three days last June, said spokesman John Goheen.

The plant, at Fort Smallwood and Kembo Roads, also failed to comply with state reporting requirements for toxic air emissions, Goheen said.

Cox Creek was supposed to report by Jan. 1, 1989, what toxicchemicals it was releasing into the air and how much, Goheen said. That report was not submitted until March 1990 and was still incomplete, he said.

Goheen said the company also missed a July 1, 1990, deadline for a report on its compliance with anti-air pollution laws.

Department of the Environment inspectors met with Cox Creek officials to discuss the emissions violations Aug. 7 and the reporting deadlines Oct. 17, the spokesman said. The company was notified of the fines on Dec. 7 by registered mail.

The state Air Management Administration announced the penalties in a press release this week. The United States Naval Academy also was fined $2,000 for installing a boilerin its heating plant without a construction permit, the statement said.

Scott Armentrout, Cox Creek vice president of administration, did not return a reporter's telephone calls yesterday.

Mary Rosso,president of the Maryland Waste Coalition, said environmentalists have not paid much attention to Cox Creek Refining Co., which is sandwiched between SCM Chemicals and Baltimore Gas and Electric's Brandon Shores power plant.

"Down here, it's hard to tell whose emissions we're looking at sometimes," said Rosso, whose Glen Burnie-based, non-profit group monitors polluters in the Baltimore region. "But, from what I read, I don't think the company is real concerned about environment controls, whether they are to protect the air, the water or their workers."

Earlier this month, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Office proposed fining Cox Creek $5,500 for workplace violations. The agency has scheduled a hearing on those fines in Baltimoretoday.

Safety inspectors said that they found airborne lead levels almost 10 times the legal exposure limit during a July visit to theplant in northern Anne Arundel County. Seven employees were found tohave blood-lead levels high enough to require further medical monitoring, they said.

Cox Creek was purchased by Mitsubishi Metal America Corp. last July 18.

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