Dry cleaner pleads guilty in waste case


Former Joppatowne dry cleaner Ronald Metzdorf Sr. has been fined $6,725 for illegally dumping waste perchloroethylene, a chemical used at his business, in a hazardous waste case prosecuted in Harford Circuit Court by the Maryland attorney general's office.

Mr. Metzdorf, 54, of Duryea Drive, pleaded guilty to one count of storing hazardous waste for more than 90 days at a hearing last week before Judge William O. Carr.

In addition to the fine, Judge Carr ordered the defendant to publicize his conviction in advertisements in two dry cleaning trade journals and ordered Mr. Metzdorf to serve a two-year probation.

The judge suspended a 90-day jail term for Mr. Metzdorf, who he ordered to describe in the advertisements how costly the illegal disposal of waste dry cleaning chemicals can be.

Mr. Metzdorf is to pay the fine and run the ads while he is on probation, according to the judge's order.

State Department of the Environment emergency response workers discovered five drums of the chemical, known as "perc," near Clayton Road in Joppatowne on July 26, 1993.

Mr. Metzdorf was prosecuted after state police and the department's Environmental Crimes Unit learned that the drums came from Patti Cleaners, which he had been operating in the Joppatowne Shopping Center.

The defendant later told authorities that he paid three unidentified men in a pickup truck $40 to dispose of the chemicals, which had been stored at his shop since 1991.

Mr. Metzdorf was in the process of shutting down the business when the disposal occurred, said Assistant Attorney General Bernard A. Penner, who prosecuted the case.

Mr. Penner said the money from the fine will go into the Hazardous Substance Control Fund to pay for cleanup costs.

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