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Baltimore plant's waste finds a home


A British recycling firm has agreed to dispose of more than 400 tons of contaminated chemical waste shipped to England from the FMC Corp. plant in Baltimore.

The agreement, an out-of-court settlement filed this week in New York, ends a three-year dispute over what to do with the waste, which has been sitting in sealed drums since its arrival.

Spokesmen for FMC and the British firm, Wath Recycling Ltd., both refused to discuss the terms of the settlement or whether FMC had agreed to pay for disposal.

The waste shipment prompted a brief walkout of rail workers in Leeds in August 1989 after several passed out and suffered breathing problems while unloading what they thought were containers of copper sludge.

Subsequent tests found that the sludge contained xylene and 7-H furan, both substances produced or used at FMC's plant in south Baltimore. The furan is an ingredient in the manufacture of an FMC pesticide, carbofuran.

Aiming to reclaim the copper in the waste, Wath had contracted through an American broker to buy the sludge from FMC. But Wath refused to accept the material after it was found to be tainted with dangerous chemicals. Wath and Amlon Metals Inc., the New York broker, sued FMC to force the Chicago-based corporation to take the waste back.

FMC denied the material it sold was hazardous and contended that it had become contaminated in shipping.

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