County to allow Kanasco to reconnect to public sewer Brooklyn Park firm's workers had spilled toxic chemicals

July 14, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

A Brooklyn Park pharmaceutical firm whose public sewer was disconnected after workers spilled toxic chemicals into a sink will be allowed to reconnect, a county official said.

The county Department of Utilities will restore sewer service to the bathrooms at Kanasco Ltd., which manufactures synthetic penicillin, in the 6100 block of Robinwood Road, said spokeswoman Faye Scheibe.

However, Ms. Scheibe said, the firm must first disconnect the sink in a ground floor janitor's closet that led to last year's spill. It must also post signs in the restrooms prohibiting workers from dumping industrial wastes down those drains.

Kanasco then must obtain a $100,000 letter of credit to finance any future clean-up costs should future spills occur, Ms. Scheibe said.

Utilities Director Thomas H. Neel notified Kanasco owner John D. Copanos of the county's decision in a July 7 letter.

Neither Mr. Copanos or Mario Ruggeri, the plant's quality assurance manager, were available for comment yesterday.

Kanasco asked for permission to reconnect last summer. County officials considered the application as two requests, one to reconnect the bathrooms, the other to dump industrial wastes.

Mr. Neel said the county has reservations about the company's application to legally dump industrial wastes into the public sewer. He requested additional information about the efforts Kanasco would make to clean up those wastes before releasing them into the system.

Kanasco and the adjacent John D. Copanos & Sons, which packages penicillin into capsules, have a history of dumping violations spanning two decades. A methylene chloride spill in 1988 sent 10 Ferndale families to the hospital.

The county hit Kanasco last fall with the largest fine for waste water violations in county history. The county penalized the firm $54,000 for violations stemming from two spills on May 5 and June 23. Mr. Neel reduced the fine to $27,000 after reviewing the case in February, Ms. Scheibe said.

The previous largest fine had been $3,000.

County officials said Kanasco had dumped the industrial solvent methylene chloride, along with acetone and isopropyl alcohol, into the public drain. A state investigation of the incident is still pending.

State Del. Joan Cadden, a Brooklyn Park Democrat, was disappointed to learn that Kanasco may reconnect to the sewer system. Cadden and other elected officials have worked with residents, lodging complaints against the company.

"If the county is setting out conditions, I just hope it really enforces them," Cadden said. "These people [Kanasco officials] have not been trustworthy in the past. In my fantasy, if I had my way, we would just close them down."

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