State cites Sun Co. on permit issue, seeks $20,000 fine

February 19, 1994|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,Sun Staff Writer

The state has proposed a $20,000 fine against The Baltimore Sun Co. for waiting more than three years to seek an air pollution permit for the company's printing plant at the Port Covington business park in South Baltimore.

In a citation issued last week, the Department of the Environment said the company should have obtained the permit before starting to install new printing presses and related equipment in May 1990. But no application was filed until Nov. 3, 1993.

The company has been printing The Sun and The Evening Sun at the $180 million plant, called Sun Park, since February 1992, according to the state citation.

The firm has 10 days to appeal the fine by asking for a hearing. Michael Shultz, a Sun spokesman, said he did not know if the company would contest the penalty. He described the delay in seeking the permit as "an oversight."

Printing operations and many other businesses are regulated because they release smog-forming hydrocarbons and other pollutants. The Baltimore area has the sixth worst urban smog in the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state is still reviewing the company's permit application, said B. Frank Courtright, chief of air pollution enforcement. Mr. NTC Shultz said The Sun expects to receive a permit soon.

The company could have been fined a maximum of $50,000. But the proposed penalty was reduced because The Sun essentially turned itself in by applying belatedly for the permit, Mr. Courtright said.

Another factor, he said, is that emissions from the new equipment apparently do not exceed state limits.

Nonetheless, "we need to review these [emissions] up front, and we need to have the regulated community take these seriously," Mr. Courtright said.

The citation was the third environmental action against the company in two years.

The Sun gave $25,000 to the Baltimore City Fire Department to settle an environmental group's claim that annual reports on the storage of dangerous chemicals were not made, as required by federal law.

And the company paid $250 to the city for failing to get a permit to discharge industrial waste water from the Port Covington plant into the sanitary sewer.

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