The state Department of the Environment has given an Illinois-based company preliminary permission to build hazardous-waste transfer facility in Odenton.
The permit will not be issued until any appeals are decided, but the state agency told Safety-Kleen last week that it has met all the criteria and adequately addressed community concerns.
"We will do everything to ensure we are a good corporate neighbor," said Paul Wyche, a company spokesman. He said officials do not have a timetable for construction.
Sally Shoemaker, vice president of the Odenton Improvement Association, said yesterday that an appeal probably would be filed.
She said the state did not satisfactorily address concerns area residents raised at a public hearing in April.
Safety-Kleen, a Fortune 500 company that operates several transfer facilities in Maryland, has 200 plants across the United States, Europe and Asia.
The company wants permission to store 1,485 16-gallon drums and build six external 20,000-gallon tanks on five acres off Telegraph Road in the Mayfield Industrial Park.
The facility would combine operations from Safety-Kleen's Glen Burnie and Silver Spring operations and would be used to store such petroleum-based products as used antifreeze, solvents and dry-cleaner waste. The chemicals would be trucked from Odenton to recycling plants in New Jersey and South Carolina.
Catherine A. McCord, environmental manager for the company's eastern division, said in April that Safety-Kleen's clients are small companies that don't generate enough hazardous waste to be regulated by the state.
Without companies like Safety-Kleen, Ms. McCord said, the waste commonly ends up dumped in back lots or landfills. "The term 'recycling' is not thrown out as a glitter term to get you to accept this," she said. "It is our business. We are not bringing waste into your community; we are taking it out."
But Ms. Shoemaker said residents are concerned about spills, leaks, truck traffic and a nearby day-care center. Residents who spoke at the hearing in April also chided state officials, asking how they will police the facility in light of their record with the controversial Millersville Landfill. Several wells near that landfill have tested positive for carcinogens, although state officials have yet to pinpoint the source.
In its letter to residents and the company, the state Department of the Environment said community concerns about truck traffic and hazardous spills are unwarranted.
"The permit's contingency plan specifies responses that are to be taken in case of a leak or a spill long before they threaten ground water," the letter said.
The state also said the site's proximity to a day-care center "is a local zoning issue" and that the facility meets the minimum distance requirements "for handling ignitable waste."
The next step in the approval process is for Safety-Kleen to buy an ad in a local newspaper announcing the state's decision. If no one files an appeal in 10 days, the company will receive its permits.