BALTIMORE CHEMICAL COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY TO ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES, ORDERED TO PAY $165,000 IN FINES, RESTITUTION
Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced that a Baltimore chemical company, Millennium Specialty Chemicals, Inc., pleaded guilty today in Baltimore City Circuit Court to five criminal environmental violations. The Honorable Stuart R. Berger ordered the company to pay a fine of $50,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund and to pay restitution in the amount of $65,000 to Baltimore City for costs and expenses associated with the use of a bypass pipe. As part of the plea agreement in the case, Millennium also entered into a Consent Agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Baltimore City Solicitorís Office, under which Millennium agreed to pay a total civil penalty of $50,000, based on the same conduct, and to do several things to improve Baltimore Cityís ability to monitor the plant in the future.
Millenniumís Colors Plant Operation, located at 2701 Broening Highway, manufactures inorganic pigments which are primarily used in the paint, thermoplastic, and ceramics industries. These red and yellow pigments contain compounds of cadmium, selenium, and zinc, which are toxic heavy metals. Millennium manufactures approximately 600,000 pounds of pigments annually. The major sources of wastewater in Millenniumís Colors Plant are filtrate from filter presses, spent caustic from a calcine operation air scrubber, and water from an equipment decontamination room.
In 1993, testing by MDE determined that a portion of Millenniumís industrial process wastewater exhibited excessive toxicity. Consequently, MDE required Millennium to cease discharging this wastewater to Colgate Creek and to begin discharging it into the Baltimore City sanitary sewer system. Discharges into the sanitary sewer system are regulated by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works for permit compliance.
On May 18, 1999, the Attorney Generalís Environmental Crimes Unit and the Maryland State Police, with assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, DPW, and MDE, executed a court-ordered search and seizure warrant upon Millennium, based on an allegation that Millennium had used a bypass system to circumvent the monitoring of the companyís wastewater discharge by DPW. On the day the warrant was executed, a bypass pipe which could have been used to accomplish the criminal act was located in the Colors Plant.
During the course of the investigation, ECU investigators learned that, in mid-November 1994, the manager of the Colors Plant, on his own initiative, instructed a maintenance man to install a bypass pipe. This pipe diverted wastewater around a monitoring station, which was required to be maintained under the companyís wastewater discharge permit. The bypass pipe was designed to cause a false indication of the level of contaminants contained in the companyís wastewater discharge. The Colors Plant manager used the bypass pipe for several hours a day on five consecutive days in 1994, when Millennium was required to monitor its wastewater under its permit.
After the pipe was used in mid-November 1994, Millennium filed a Discharge Monitoring Report. This report did not include flows that bypassed the companyís monitoring station, due to the use of the bypass pipe.
The charge of Tampering with a Monitoring Device is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $10,000 for a first offense. The charge of Making a False Statement in a Required Document is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $10,000 for a first offense. Such conduct also subjects the violator to liability for civil penalties of up to $10,000 per day per violation and injunctive relief.
As part of the comprehensive settlement in this case, MDE and the Baltimore City Solicitorís Office negotiated with Millennium a civil Consent Agreement, entered on October 19, 2000, under which Millennium agreed to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the Maryland Clean Water Fund, and restitution in the amount of $65,000 to the City of Baltimore, based on the conduct which was the subject of the criminal charges. Millennium also agreed to do four things: (1) remove the bypass pipe; (2) replace Millenniumís internal sanitary sewer connector line; (3) provide for continued access via Millenniumís new plant security system, 24 hours a day, each day, by personnel of the Cityís Department of Public Works to the existing sampling point inside the plant; and (4) install a readily accessible facility for measuring flow and concentration of the discharge in the replacement internal sanitary sewer connecting line.
"Millennium went out of its way to circumvent the integrity of this program," Attorney General Curran said. "As a result, the company must pay over $150,000 in fines and restitution and make a number of significant changes to its current operations."
This case was investigated by the Attorney Generalís Environmental Crimes Unit and the Maryland State Police, with assistance from EPA, FBI, MDE, and DPW.