State investigators were trying to determine last night who delivered 27 containers of industrial chemicals to their owner -- by depositing them on the lawn of his Randallstown home.
The containers, ranging from 55-gallon drums of hydrogen peroxide to small barrels of solvents, acids and germicides, were left off sometime before 5:50 p.m. on the lawn in the 4000 block of McDonogh Road and prompted an evacuation of 14 homes in the neighborhood.
The homeowner, identified as Donald Kahn, told investigators that he recently left the textile business and had been storing the chemicals at a warehouse, said Lt. Richard Brooks, a Baltimore County fire department spokesman.
Mr. Kahn reported that he believed the chemicals were dumped by a warehouse owner who was upset over money, Lieutenant Brooks said.
"Essentially it was an eviction," Lieutenant Brooks said. "They dumped the stuff right on his front yard, in front of his house and right next to his car."
Several gallons of potentially volatile hydrogen peroxide leaked from the tanks and seeped into the yard of the home, authorities said. It doesn't appear that any of the other storage tanks leaked, however.
Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, firefighters ordered an evacuation of the nearby homes while they cleaned up the spill and carted away the chemicals.
"Potentially it could have caused a fire, so we evacuated people," Lieutenant Brooks said.
The cleanup took about four and a half hours, during which the evacuees either stood around and watched or stayed with friends and neighbors.
At 10:30 p.m., they were allowed to go back to their homes, firefighters said.
Investigators from the environmental crimes unit of the Maryland Department of the Environment were called to the scene and were trying to determine who was responsible for the dumping.
"There are laws against dumping and there are laws against dumping chemicals," Lieutenant Brooks said.
"You can't just leave those kinds of things lying on somebody's lawn," he said.
Along with hydrogen peroxide, the other chemicals included hydrochloric acid and the germicide hexachlorophene, authorities said.
A hazardous materials team in protective garb cleaned up the spill.