North County and Curtis Bay area residents are demanding to know whyno one told them about plans for a car shredder in Fairfield until after a permit was signed.
About 60 angry citizens and their elected representatives blasted the Maryland Department of the Environment Tuesday night for approving the air pollution control permit without public input.
Though a notice of public hearing on the permit was advertised inThe Sun in June, citizen watchdog groups say no one from MDE or Baltimore government informed them about the Brooklyn Salvage Co.'s plansfor a car shredder.
A task force of citizens from Brooklyn, Curtis Bay and Fairfield meets each month with city officials, but no one said a word about the shredder, said Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park. Jimeno said he learned of the shredder just a week ago.
Similarly, an aide for City Councilman Timothy D. Murphy said the councilman was "outraged" that he could not attend Monday's meeting because he didn't know about it until the last minute.
State lawmakers said they want to introduce legislation during the next General Assembly session to ensure that citizens get a public hearing on such proposals.
MDE officials said they received no requests for a hearing after the application for an air pollution control permit was publicized in the newspaper. Tuesday's meeting was informational, arranged byMDE in response to delayed community reaction.
Brooklyn Salvage, in the 1600 block of Carbon Avenue, recycles scrap metal from cars and white goods, such as refrigerators and dryers. With the shredding machine, the firm plans to process 150 cars a day, said owner David Simon.
The shredding operation needs a permit because it could send particulates, such as metal shavings, into the air. Brooklyn Salvage does not have to comply with a law requiring environmental impact statements for operations in the Curtis Bay area because it expects to release less than 25 tons of emissions a year, said George P. Ferreri,director of the state Air Management Administration.
Residents said they are worried about contamination from batteries and gas tanks that may mistakenly go through the shredder. They are also concerned about possible toxic releases from auto air bags.
Many carried copies of a recent Sun article that reported that air bag firing devices, when shredded, can pollute the air with the toxic chemical sodium azide, hidden deep within the steering column.
"We have enough toxic chemicals going up in the air without this," said Doris McGuigan ofBrooklyn.
The Brooklyn-Curtis Bay-Fairfield area already is home to a medical waste incinerator, a chemical plant and many other heavyindustrial facilities.
"These are not radical people," Jimeno said. "They've just had it, and I've had it, too. I'd like to attend a meeting that would reduce emissions, not increase them."
Simon toldresidents he intends to run a clean operation and invited them to participate with the company in a neighborhood recycling program. He said Brooklyn Salvage will clean up the scrap yard, which one man likened to the war zone in Kuwait.
"We want to be a good neighbor to everybody," Simon said.