Electroplating Company Fined $50,000 for Illegal Hazardous Waste Storage and Water Pollution

October 7, 1999

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran announced today that a Baltimore City electroplating company, located on South Haven Street, has been fined $50,000 for violating State hazardous waste and water pollution laws.

August John Naumann, Jr., 57, 8607 Goldenwood Road, Baltimore, the President of A-1 Plating Company, Inc., pleaded guilty on behalf of the corporation to unlawfully storing cyanide sludge waste, a controlled hazardous substance (CHS). The plea was entered before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Roger W. Brown. Judge Brown fined A-1 Plating $100,000, which is the maximum for this offense. He suspended $60,000 of the fine and directed that the remainder be paid to the Maryland Hazardous Substance Control Fund.

Naumann also pled guilty, on behalf of the corporation, to discharging contaminated wastewater into a sanitary sewer. Judge Brown fined A-1 Plating $25,000, which is the maximum for this offense. He suspended $10,000 of that fine and directed that the remainder be paid to the Maryland Clean Water Fund. Judge Brown placed A-1 Plating on three years supervised probation.

As a result of this investigation and prosecution, Mr. Naumann cleaned the South Haven Street location of hazardous waste, incurring $31, 938 in clean-up costs.

According to the Statement of Facts presented today in Court, the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit received a complaint that controlled hazardous waste was being illegally stored at the A-1 Plating facility, located at 311 South Haven Street in Baltimore City. On September 4, 1997, investigators inspected the premises and observed that at least nineteen 55-gallon drums of zinc cyanide sludge, two of which did not even have lids, were being stored there. A 250-gallon plastic tank was found to contain liquid cyanide waste and there was evidence of spillage. Also, there was a large shipping container which housed a collection of storage drums in various states of decay. The bottom of this container had rusted through, and one severely corroded drum was leaking a significant amount of white chemical salts.

At the time of the complaint, A-1 Plating did not have a permit to store the hazardous substances on its premises. Also, many of the containers used for storing the hazardous substances did not meet minimum requirements for safety.

The Environmental Crimes Unit interviewed current and former A-1 employees and an official with an environmental consulting firm. All agreed that the situation had continued since 1993. In fact, the environmental consulting firm had inventoried the facility in 1994 and provided A-1 Plating Company with a proposal for disposing of the hazardous waste properly. However, the company refused the offer due to the cost.

"The laws regarding hazardous waste storage are to protect the public from harm and possible disaster," said Attorney General Curran. "This company attempted to circumvent those laws in order to save money. Thatís unacceptable at any price."

In December 1997, Baltimore City environmental officials tested the company's wastewater discharges and determined that A-1 Plating had exceeded allowable levels for cadmium and chromium, two pollutants.

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357