Settlement of Alleged Violations at Former Sparrows Point Steel Mill Includes Commitment for Millions of Dollars in Environmental Projects

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Jay Apperson

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Settlement of Alleged Violations at Former Sparrows Point Steel Mill Includes Commitment for Millions of Dollars in Environmental Projects

Companies agree to settle alleged violations of water pollution, solid waste, hazardous waste, oil control, asbestos laws during demolition; settlement includes cash payment, projects to benefit the environment


Baltimore, MD (April 3, 2015) – 
A company hired for the demolition of the former Sparrows Point steelmaking facility and the former owner of the steel mill property are to undertake more than $3 million in projects to benefit the environment under an agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The agreement, which settles alleged violations of state environmental laws during demolition activities at the site, includes a payment of $1.5 million. Of that, $375,000 is to be paid in cash by HRE Sparrows Point LLC, former owner of the above-ground facilities at the site. The remaining $1.125 million is to be offset by one or more environmental projects commissioned by Sparrows Point LLC, the former owner of the real estate that was home to the steel mill, and MCM Management Corporation, the company contracted for demolition and removal activities there. The settlement agreement requires these “Supplemental Environmental Projects” to have a value of at least three times the amount offset or, in this case, at least $3.375 million, unless otherwise approved by MDE.

The Sparrows Point property is being redeveloped by new owners Sparrows Point Terminal LLC, which is not the subject of these alleged violations and is not a party to the settlement agreement. The environmental cleanup of the property under its new ownership is being overseen by MDE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is good news for the environment and the economy,” said MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles. “This settlement includes significant penalties but also spurs new environmental projects and helps clear the path for redevelopment that is crucial to Maryland’s future.”

The agreement settles alleged violations of water pollution, erosion and sediment control, solid waste, hazardous waste, oil control and asbestos laws.

  • MDE inspections of the property in 2013 and 2014 found that Storm Water Pollution Plans that had been submitted were not being fully implemented, that the controls in place were not adequate to protect stormwater from contamination from ongoing activities and that pollutants were placed in positions where they were likely to pollute waters of the State.
  • Inspections in 2013 noted treated waste water being discharged from a fire hydrant in the area of a machine shop, placing the effluent in potential contact with such pollutants as old batteries, construction debris and fuel oil before discharging to storm drains.
  • An inspection in 2013 noted a lack of adequate sediment and erosion controls at Grey’s Landfill.
  • Inspections in 2013 and 2014 noted pollutants in locations exposed to stormwater and in positions where they were likely to pollute waters of the State. This included standing water with petroleum or oily material in pits and oily sludge-type material on equipment in a machine shop area,  black oil or petroleum sludge material dumped outside the Coke Point landfill and construction debris around the property.
  • A 2013 inspection noted open dumping of solid waste and industrial waste sludge, improper management of the Grey’s and Coke Point landfills and stockpiles of scrap tires without the proper license.
  • A 2013 inspection noted hazardous waste containers without additional containment and containers without required labels.
  • A 2013 inspection noted pooled petroleum on remnants of the concrete floor of a machine shop and discharge of an oily sludge material in an area outside the Coke Point Landfill.
  • Inspections in 2013 and 2014 found alleged violations of asbestos control and abatement regulations, including bags with tears, allowing discharge of friable asbestos material to the atmosphere.

Under the settlement agreement, Sparrows Point LLC and MCM Management Corporation are to submit one or more proposals for Supplemental Environmental Projects to MDE for review and approval.

In September 2014, MDE and the new owner of the former Sparrows Point steelmaking facility, Sparrows Point Terminal LLC, signed an agreement that will lead to the final cleanup of a key environmental site and will facilitate the redevelopment of the Sparrows Point property. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also reached an agreement with Sparrows Point Terminal LLC.

Under the terms of the MDE agreement – an Administrative Consent Order – Sparrows Point Terminal, LLC will assume responsibility for the ongoing environmental work and will develop and execute plans to complete cleanup of the 3,100 acre site. MDE obtained a substantial financial commitment from the company, as well as provisions to ensure that the cleanup of the site remains on schedule.

Secretary Grumbles thanks Assistant Attorney General and MDE Principal Counsel Steven Johnson and MDE compliance staff in the Water, Land and Air and Radiation Management Administrations for their work on the case.

 

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