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For Immediate Release
December 20, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

BALTIMORE CITY COMPANY CONVICTED OF WATER POLLUTION


Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Masons Unlimited, LLC, a Maryland Corporation, was convicted of discharging a pollutant into the waters of the State after a three-day jury trial in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

On December 22, 2004 an employee of the Special Projects Team of the Pollution Control Section of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, discovered a trail of brick-washing waste sludge in the storm drains on S. Potomac and Fleet Streets. The trail of sludge began at the 500 block S. Potomac Street and led from the Fleet Street side of a building, and down S. Potomac Street toward a storm drain inlet. The exterior of the building had been recently power washed. Later that same day, investigators from the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office responded to the scene and observed employees of Masons Unlimited LLC using a water hose to wash residual sludge into the storm drain.
Lab tests confirmed that the brick-washing sludge at S. Potomac and Fleet Streets had a lead level of 72 ppm. This highly toxic and hazardous level of lead is known to cause detrimental effects to the health, safety and welfare of humans.

At trial, the owner of the building testified that he had hired Masons Unlimited, LLC, a company owned and operated by Jose Morales, to remove the paint from the exterior wall of the building for $10,000. Instead of properly containing and disposing of the highly toxic waste generated from the paint removal and brick-washing, however, Masons Unlimited illegally discharged the waste into the storm drain.
“ Brickwashing contractors can not recklessly damage the communities where they work by spilling wastewater containing lead. The majority of contractors take the appropriate steps to protect the environment, but when they do not, we will work with our partners in the city and throughout the state to protect the citizens of Maryland,” said Attorney General Curran.

This conviction follows a joint investigation conducted by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, the Baltimore City Police Department, and of the Special Projects Team of the Pollution Control Section of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works.

The Honorable Paul A. Smith scheduled sentencing for January 6, 2006. The maximum sentence Judge Smith can impose is a $25,000 fine.


   

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