Company accused of dumping fuel-tainted dirt, fined Soil Safe to appeal $40,000 state penalty

April 12, 1997|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

An East Baltimore soil-recycling company has been fined $40,000 by the state for oil-pollution violations, including the dumping of allegedly fuel-contaminated dirt at a Northeast Baltimore apartment complex.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said yesterday that it levied the penalty April 2 against Soil Safe Inc. of 4600 E. Fayette St.

The company processes oil- and gasoline-tainted dirt and sells the treated material, which it calls soil cement, for use as fill material in highway and other construction projects.

Timothy R. Henderson, a lawyer for Soil Safe, disputed the state's allegations and said the company would appeal the citation and penalty.

In August, the environmental agency said, one of its inspectors detected a strong gasoline odor coming from purportedly decontaminated soil used to fill holes at the Mount Pleasant Village apartments in the 5600 block of McClean Blvd., where leaking underground fuel tanks had been removed.

Using portable detection equipment, the inspector measured unacceptably high levels of petroleum products in the dirt, which had been trucked in from Soil Safe, the state said.

It is illegal to use oil-contaminated soil as fill material. A laboratory analysis of the soil dumped at the apartments measured up to 22 times the allowable level of petroleum hydrocarbons, the state's complaint said.

Another inspector found while checking Soil Safe's processing plant earlier in August that the company's huge pile of contaminated soil had not been properly covered and appeared to be eroding, the state said.

Henderson said his client did nothing wrong but nevertheless retrieved the soil from the apartment complex and treated it again.

The material shipped to the apartments had been processed to reduce contamination and, before leaving Soil Safe, passed a state-approved test showing that any remaining fuel byproducts in the dirt would not leach into the ground, he said.

The lawyer also challenged the state's allegation that the pile of contaminated dirt was not properly covered. Henderson said the plastic cover had been removed so that the soil could dry out before it was processed.

No pollution resulted from exposing the tainted soil to wind and rain, the lawyer said. If any contaminated dirt eroded while the pile was uncovered, he said, the pollutants would have washed into a settling pond on Soil Safe's property, not into nearby streams.

Pub Date: 4/12/97

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