Neighbors Irked At 7th Spill At Plant In Three Months

June 26, 1991|By Robert Lee | Robert Lee,Staff writer

The Department of the Environment is investigating the seventh spillin the last three months at Brooklyn Park's Kanasco Ltd. pharmaceutical corporation.

The spill was reported Sunday night at about 8:15p.m., when a crew of utility workers outside of Kanasco's Robinwood Road plant reported an "offensive-smelling, white milky liquid flowing out of a pipe" into the sewer system, Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gary Sheckells said yesterday.

Arundel Gardens Improvement Association president Evelyn Lee, whosays she has been suffering headaches, dizziness and nausea since Sunday, says she "has had enough of Kanasco" and wants the plant closeddown.

"It is hell living out here going on 25 years," said Lee, who lives two blocks up a hill from Kanasco. "I'm really fed up with the excuses and the investigations, this time we're going to try to shut it down."

Lee said odors similar to rotten eggs, bleach and bugspray regularly waft through the neighborhood between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. She said "about 10" of her neighbors have complained of dizziness and nausea in the last two days.

Sheckells said the county's hazardous materials unit believes the milky liquid contains traces of methylene chloride, the same toxic solvent Kanasco spilled in 1988, sending 10 Ferndale families to the hospital and causing the evacuation of seven others.

Several gallons of the liquid were collected Sunday and sent to state labs for analysis. The sewer system was "flushedwith large amounts of water," to dilute the odoriferous liquid, and exhaust fans were placed at other manholes in the neighborhood to clear the air, Sheckells said.

Kanasco has been forbidden from using the county sewer system for other than employee toilets since the 1988 spill, which was traced to a faulty pump.

Plant manager Mario Ruggeri "was in Annapolis explaining a spill" yesterday and was unavailable for comment, a plant maintenance worker said.

The worker, whowould not identify himself, said the white milky substance was "a treated waste byproduct" of the penicillin manufacturing process.

"It's just burnt molds," the plant worker said. "It's not very pleasant, but we work with it all the time in the plant."

Department of the Environment spokesman Michael Sullivan said Sunday's spill and an April spill of the solvent tri-ethylamine are under investigation.

Sheckells said the fire department's hazardous materials unit has been called to Kanasco seven times in the last three months in response to citizen complaints. The plant, which produces 50 tons to 75 tons of penicillin annually, has a history of dumping violations dating back to 1974.

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