American Cyanimid has won tentative renewal of a permit to handle hazardous waste at its Havre de Grace plant, but a Harford citizen group wants further study of possible contamination of soil and ground water near Lilly Run Creek, which feeds the Chesapeake Bay.

The plant is authorized by the Maryland Department of Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use highly corrosive acids and other toxic materials in the production of structural adhesives and aluminum products for the aircraft and space industries.

The EPA permit would require soil testing and ground water monitoring wells at two locations on the plant site where spills of chromicacid and an alcohol-based solvent occurred in 1984 and 1985 and giveapproval to existing repairs of cracks formed in concrete surrounding several other collection and transfer sites.

The Community Coalition of Harford County, a citizens environmental watchdog group, wants the EPA to order further testing at four of those sites where the EPA says there is no history of leaking of acids or oil wastes.

"We're only asking for things (the EPA) probably want anyway," said Brian Feeney, environmental chairman of the coalition, a citizens watchdog group. "We have a community interest in a well-run, clean facility."

The factory, bordered by Revolution Street to the north and the Penn Central Railroad line to the south, generates about 20,000 gallons of acid annually, which is stored in two tanks until trucked away to a disposal plant.

The 28-acre site is dissected into two tractsby Lilly Run Creek, which flows in a northeasterly direction to the Chesapeake Bay about a mile away.

The coalition is concerned that past spills and possible leaks could threaten the creek and wants thecompany to conduct tests to ensure pollution isn't occurring.

"Wewant to make sure a worst-case scenario doesn't exist," Feeney said."But we can't know that and they can't know that without more information."

The plant's safety and environmental manager declined comment last week while the company drafts a response.

The two known spills involved chromic acid and an alcohol-based solvent, for which the EPA is requiring further testing.

But the condition of the concrete floor at the four sites the coalition identified does not justify extensive soil or ground water testing, said Christopher Luksic, anenvironmental specialist at the EPA office in Philadelphia.

"At this point, we have no reason to believe the integrity of the concretehas been breached in any way," he said.

MDE, which has twice approved the plant's permit, also supports the permit renewal.

The EPAhas tentatively scheduled a public comment hearing on the plant permit for Sept. 12 to hear the coalition's concerns. A firm date and place for the meeting will be announced later.

The opportunity to file written comment will also be extended from Aug. 12 until the hearing. Send to: Christopher Luksic, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,Region III, 841 Chestnut Building, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad