Federal environmental agents today will begin cleaning up 44 drums of hazardous waste stashed away on a Brooklyn Park storage site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the 14-acre dump on property owned by Drumco Inc. a "fire hazard" and a potential health threat in announcing the cleanup Friday.
The action, under the EPA's Superfund program, comes less than a week after the site's owner was sentenced to jail for violating Maryland environmental laws. George Phillips Garratt III, a Carroll Countyresident who owns the steel drum recycling company, received a 90-day sentence for illegally dumping the barrels of waste in a trailer.
State officials discovered 44 drums, some leaking and others filledwith toxic, flammable and corrosive liquids, stored at the lot at Arundel Boulevard and Aspen Street in September. The dump extends from Baltimore's western city limit into Anne Arundel County and is less than a mile from residential areas.
A Curtis Bay civic leader tipped off the state Department of the Environment about the leaking drumsin early September. Government agents who inspected the site found the drums. Paint thinners and other corrosive liquids, believed to be the residue rinsed from hazardous waste drums recycled by Drumco, were found inside the barrels.
Garratt was the 11th person in Maryland to receive a prison term since the state began enforcing environmental laws in 1980. He also was sentenced to five years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service.
The EPA said it had "identified a direct contact threat to humans, a fire hazard, and a potential threat for additional release of hazardous substances from drums at the site."
EPA agents could not be reached to estimate the cost of the Superfund cleanup, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today.