BALTIMORE (AP) — A firm that operates the steel plant at Sparrows Point has been ordered by the state to contain an industrial grit that has been falling on southeast Baltimore county.
The Maryland Department of the Environment, in response to complaints about the airborne, sparkly silver and black grit known as kish, found International Steel Group-Mittal Steel N.V. in violation of air emissions regulations.
The first step is repairing holes in a building that is to contain the material but was damaged by an explosion.
The steel company is appealing the order.
Maryland environmental officials vowed to look into complaints about kish after meeting last month with residents and politicians about a Sparrows Point cleanup ordered 10 years ago. Kish can become airborne during some steel-making processes, such as the dumping of unwanted molten iron.
Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Dundalk Democrat, said he was glad that the MDE had acted on the complaints.
''They have to hold (the company) responsible for what's coming out of those smokestacks and buildings,'' he said.
Kish is considered more of a nuisance than a serious health threat. It can irritate eyes, nose and upper airways, according to the MDE.
Art Cox owns the Anchor Bay East Marina in Dundalk with his wife. He is among those who have complained about the kish.
''When the south winds are prevailing, we get dumped on pretty good,'' said Cox, adding that the grit covers the boats 12 to 18 times a year. ''Fortunately for us, the prevailing winds don't usually bring all that mess our way.''
The grit must be rinsed off or it causes rust spots, said Cox. The steel company has offered to pay to wash the boats in the past, he said.