Former steel mill owner fined for pollution

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has hit the former owner of the Sparrows Point steel mill and its demolition contractor with a hefty $3 million penalty for pollution-related violations.

According to the MDE, HRE Sparrows Point LLC and Sparrows Point LLC and contractor MCM Management Corp all committed environmental violations during 2013 and 2014, including failing to control stormwater, sediment and erosion; dumping trash and industrial waste; stockpiling scrap tires; and handling asbestos improperly.

Under a settlement reached with the MDE, HRE Sparrows Point, which owned the old buildings and equipment, will pay $375,000. Meanwhile Sparrows Point LLC, the land owner, and demolition contractor MCM will complete $3.375 million in environmental projects.

According to Jat Apperson, spokesperson for the MDE, the projects do not have to be completed on the steel mill property, and may include environmental conservation and remediation efforts elsewhere.

Alison Prost, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay, told the Baltimore Sun that she was pleased with the settlement.

"These are violations that we've been raising for years," she said. "There was no stormwater control. … It was all the slag and rubble right up to the water's edge. There was nothing to prevent what happened on land from ending up in the water."

She agreed with the MDE's decision to combine the fine with environmental work, stating that having active projects — instead of general funds — would help clean up the environment faster.

Industries in the process of cleaning up contamination should work with environmental consultants to help ensure that the area is promptly remediated.