WASHINGTON -- A $1.2 million fine has been levied against a Baltimore electroplating company, one of 51 firms named by federal and state environmental officials as part of a monthlong crackdown on hazardous waste violations across the nation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday that 22 companies and two government facilities in 16 states had been charged in the past month with illegal storage and disposal of hazardous wastes and related violations. The agency filed criminal charges against five companies.
Cited yesterday for allegedly storing hazardous wastes without a permit and other violations and fined $1.2 million were Atlantic Alliance Corp. at 4004 E. Monument St. and its president, Philip Horelick.
Two other Maryland firms were also fined.
The EPA said it was penalizing Mr. Horelick because of what agency officials alleged was an attempt to evade responsibility for past violations.
Allied Metal Finishing Corp. was fined $50,000 by the EPA two years ago. But the company went bankrupt without paying or cleaning up, said Lawrence Falkin, chief of hazardous waste enforcement for the EPA's Region 3 office in Philadelphia.
The company's principals, including Mr. Horelick, then formed Atlantic Alliance, bought the assets of Allied Metal Finishing and took over the electroplating operation, the EPA said. An inspection last July found violations involving storage of liquid wastes and sludges containing lead, cadmium and other toxic metals.
Attempts to reach Mr. Horelick at the company and at home yesterday and today were not successful.
Those cited have 30 days to appeal the penalties, EPA officials said.
Ten states, including Maryland, took action against 24 firms on similar charges in what officials described as a coordinated enforcement campaign.
Many of those cited were accused of mismanaging hazardous wastes and of essentially seeking to evade detection by failing to notify authorities or falsifying reports required under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
"These are not just paperwork violations," said Don R. Clay, assistant EPA administrator for solid waste and emergency response.
"These are people who have not just been breaking the law but harming the environment at the same time."
Some of the companies cited were dumping toxic wastes on the ground, down sewer drains and in trash bins, or they were storing hazardous chemicals in leaking drums and tanks, officials said.
Potomac Electric Power Co., one of the companies targeted, contended that its transgressions were paperwork violations that did not endanger the environment.
Maryland Environment Secretary Robert Perciasepe said that rules for reporting on storage and handling of hazardous wastes are intended to prevent toxic dumps that may require costly cleanup at government expense.