State rejects Kanasco's operating permit renewal

December 04, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

The state denied a Brooklyn Park pharmaceutical firm a permit to operate Wednesday, citing "a pattern of environmental problems and failures" over the past decade.

Kanasco Ltd., which manufactures synthetic penicillin, asked the Maryland Department of the Environment in July to renew its operating permit.

State officials rejected the application in a certified letter to Kanasco President John Copanos. The company's last operating permit was issued Oct. 1, 1991, and expired Sept. 30, 1992.

The letter cites as the reason for denial 29 violations of environmental law, including the discharge of hazardous waste into public storm drains and improper storage of waste, dating to Dec. 1, 1982.

"Based upon the past history of Kanasco's operation at the zTC Robinwood Road plant," the company's application is denied, said Merrylin Zaw-Mon, director of the MDE's Air and Radiation Management Administration.

Kanasco officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Neighbors of the Kanasco plant, who have long lobbied the state to close the facility, cheered the news.

Nearby residents have complained for years that nauseating odors from the plant forced them indoors. A 1988 spill into the Anne Arundel sewer system sent seven people to the hospital.

"There have been times when we've had to close the windows, get everybody inside. The kids were gagging," said Stan Gembicki, whose home at Sunnyfield Estates is behind the plant.

Kanasco "really put the health of the citizens in the neighborhood in jeopardy," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, who represents Brooklyn Park. "This has been a problem for years, and for whatever reason, [company officials] were not willing or not able to control it."

Voluminous files at the state Department of the Environment chronicle Kanasco's 18-year history of unauthorized dumping into storm drains and public sewers. The state ordered the company to clean up in 1974, 1982, 1986 and 1988.

In 1988, a second hazardous spill sent 10 families to the hospital.

The company has paid nearly $90,000 in penalties.

In addition, the Maryland Department of the Environment filed a civil complaint against Kanasco in October.

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