Curtis Bay Chemical Plant To Cut Toxic Emissions

April 30, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

A Curtis Bay chemical company must halve its emissions of ethylene oxide, a human carcinogen, over the next 18 months.

Rhone-Poulenc, in the 3400 block of Fairfield Road, is the seventh company along theSouth Baltimore-North County line to agree to cut toxic air emissions during the past year, said Michael Sullivan, a state Department of the Environment spokesman.

The agreements will bring the companies into compliance with tough air pollution restrictions adopted by the state last July, he said.

As a result of the negotiated agreements, the seven companies will spend a combined $24 million on anti-pollution devices over the next several years, Sullivan said.

Rhone-Poulenc, whose products can be used to make everything from soap to chemical weapons, has agreed to pay $700,000 to cut its emissions of ethylene oxide, from 1,280 pounds to 640 pounds, by December 1992.

Sullivan said the French-owned company will upgrade a piping system and improve its "scrubbers," which remove toxics from smokestack emissions. Some work is already under way, he said.

Eleven South Baltimore chemical companies, including Rhone-Poulenc, announced in November that they had voluntarily reduced their toxic emissions by 74 percent since 1987.

Rhone-Poulenc officials said then that they had spent more than $1.1 million onanti-pollution measures.

The eighth largest chemical manufacturerin the world, Rhone-Poulenc purchased the 7-acre plant on Fairfield Road in 1989.

The plant, which employs 128 city and county residents, was previously owned by Alcolac, a firm linked in 1988 with the suspected manufacture of deadly mustard gas in Iran and Iraq.

Frederick Von Rein, a Rhone-Poulenc vice president, told a congressional committee last week that the company has completely revised its policies for the handling of potentially dangerous chemicals.

The company also no longer manufactures thiodiglycol, the agent used in mustardgas, he said.

In addition to Rhone-Poulenc, the state Department of the Environment has negotiated agreements with Ato-Chem, SCM, Med-Net, FMC Corp., Vista Chemicals and W. R. Grace, Sullivan said.

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