Warehouse chemicals hazardous, tests show; Environment department yet to identify substances in S. Baltimore building


Tests show that chemicals stored in a South Baltimore warehouse owned by a Carroll County man are both "hazardous" and "corrosive," the Maryland Department of the Environment reported yesterday.

The department has not identified the chemicals, but it said they are so acidic that they ate through metal drums. The chemicals leaked onto the floor and out a door of the warehouse to an area where children often play.

Investigators also found asbestos-laden ceiling tiles in a heap outside the building, which is at 1700 Clarkson St.

"We know it's a hazardous material, but we haven't done a complete analysis," said MDE spokesman Richard McIntire. "The testing continues."

Edward Louis Birtic of Finksburg is the target of a state criminal investigation for possible environmental violations in the handling and storage of hazardous material in two warehouses.

The Department of the Environment issued Birtic two site complaints last week, ordering him to identify and dispose of drums of chemicals stored at the Clarkson Street warehouse and at another in Southwest Baltimore. The second building, at 625 S. Smallwood St., is headquarters for his company, Better Buildings Inc.

Residents of South Baltimore say Birtic had paid neighborhood children and young adults $10 to $60 a day to clean trash and chemical drums from the Clarkson Street building.

Several said they felt sick after the work. They also said that people in the neighborhood have developed breathing problems, headaches and stomach pains in recent years.

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