County Cuts Kanasco Sewer Service After Toxic Leak

June 27, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

County utilities workers yesterday sealed off a wastewater line froma Brooklyn Park pharmaceutical company to prevent another chemical spill into the public sewer system.

Sewer service to Kanasco Ltd. was cut off at noon after company officials failed to respond to a 24-hour notice asking them to explain the leak of a powerful industrial solvent Sunday night, the latest of seven spills at the plant.

Traces of methylene chloride, the same toxic solvent spilled by Kanasco in 1988, were found in a milky liquid flowing from a pipe intothe sewer system, said Jody Vollmar, spokeswoman for the Department of Utilities. Several gallons of the liquid were sent to state labs for a more detailed analysis, she said, and the neighborhood sewer system was flushed.

Kanasco has been forbidden from using the public sewer system for anything except employee toilets since the 1988 spill sent 10 Ferndale families to the hospital. Seventeen other homes onthree streets were evacuated because toxic fumes crept into the homes through the plumbing. The leak was traced to a faulty pump at Kanasco.

In recent months, neighbors have complained repeatedly about strong chemical odors and called the county's hazardous materials unitseven times. Evelyn Lee, president of Arundel Gardens Improvement Association, said she's been suffering from dizziness and nausea since Sunday. She vowed the neighborhood would "try to shut(the company) down."

Plant manager Mario Ruggeri, who has tried to reassure neighbors that the odors come from bleach used to scrub floors, could not be reached for comment.

Kanasco, which produces up to 75 tons of penicillin a year, has a 17-year history of dumping violations.

The county might restore sewer service if the company provides an appropriate cleanup plan, Vollmar said. One wastewater line was kept open soemployees could continue using the toilets, she said.

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