State OKs 90-day permit for controversial plant

June 02, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

The state Department of the Environment has granted a 90-day operating permit to a pharmaceutical plant in Brooklyn Park that closed two years ago after a grand jury indicted its owner for environmental violations.

Consolidated Pharmaceuticals Group Inc., the new owner of the plant in the 6100 block of Robinwood Road, could resume production of penicillin this year.

Last week, the state agency issued a temporary operating permit and a permit to allow Consolidated to build air pollution controls. Both permits came with a number of conditions attached.

The operating permit requires Consolidated to properly maintain all air pollution control equipment and to closely monitor plant operating conditions and odor control.

It also lists 12 steps for Consolidated to follow to minimize the release of smelly fumes into surrounding neighborhoods. The steps include properly training all employees who handle hazardous or odorous materials, and establishing a community hot line for nearby residents.

Residents from surrounding neighborhoods, including Arundel Gardens and Sunnyfield Estates, complained frequently about air-quality violations, particularly foul odors, when Kanasco Ltd. owned the plant. State regulators dropped environmental charges against Kanasco Nov. 30, 1992, after it sold out to Consolidated.

Promises from the new company and the Environment Department that operations will be closely monitored is of little comfort to Brooklyn Park residents.

"I don't think it's right just because it changes hands that you go and give the new people a permit," said Daniel E. Ditzel, 35, past president of the Sunnyfield Estates Homeowners Association. "I remember the odor that it blew off before."

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat, said residents were hoping that the plant would remain closed. "But we guess the Department of Environment didn't have any option but to issue the permit," he said.

Linden M. Fellows, president of Consolidated, was not available for comment.

Environment Department officials, who have said they are concerned about the operation because of the history of violations at the plant, can revoke Consolidated's temporary permit or withhold a permanent one if it becomes necessary.

State enforcement files chronicle an 18-year history of unauthorized dumping into storm drains and public sewers. A 1988 spill of hazardous liquid sent 10 families from the Cedar Avenue community to the hospital.

In 1991, the county severed Kanasco's connection to sewer lines after workers spilled 1,000 gallons of methylene chloride and isopropyl alcohol into a janitor's sink leading to the sewer.

That spill and the unlawful storage of hazardous wastes on the site led to the grand jury indictment of Kanasco on Sept. 29, 1992.

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