FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth woman was fined $3,500 last week by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for having five ruptured drums of hazardous waste at a former plating company in north Fort Worth.
North Fort Worth Plating, which was at 3105 N. Hays St., is owned by the estate of Billy B. Murr. The 3,400-square foot facility was valued at $85,000 in 2010 and is now appraised at $0, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.
The woman named in the complaint, Maria Murr, could not be reached for comment. She was not home Friday at her north Fort Worth residence and has an unlisted phone number.
The state agency said Murr was in violation for "failing to prevent the unauthorized discharge of industrial hazardous waste." She was notified of the violations on Sept. 27, 2009. The Environmental Protection Agency began cleanup under its Superfund Division on Aug. 19.
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The plant applied chromium, nickel, copper and gold plating from the 1970s until it ceased operations in late 2003, according to an EPA report. Little effort was made to remove chemicals or equipment after the plant closed, the EPA report said.
"A quantity of solid and liquid waste remained on-site in 27 plating vats, an undetermined number of steel and poly 55-gallon drums, and more than 100 smaller containers at the time of closure/abandonment," the EPA report said.
When the EPA inspected the site, the agency determined that about 100 gallons of sodium cyanide had been released onto the floor inside the building. The EPA removed the waste, scraped away some of the soil and took soil samples and then placed a concrete cap inside the business.
The fine was initially set at $33,000, but the state environmental agency deferred $29,400 of the penalty because Murr couldn't pay it. She paid $100 upfront and must pay off the rest in 35 monthly installments.
The violations were discovered on June 30, 2009, when state inspectors found two ruptured drums of sodium cyanide and one ruptured drum of phosphoric acid. Two contained an unknown solid substance.
Sodium cyanide can release hydrogen cyanide gas, "a highly toxic chemical asphyxiant that interferes with the body's ability to use oxygen. Exposure to sodium cyanide can be rapidly fatal," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Short-term exposure to phosphoric acid can cause skin or eye burns and long-term exposure can harm those with chronic respiratory diseases, according to the CDC.
A state report said that the business was exposed to a significant amount of pollutants but that they "do not exceed levels that are protective of human health or environmental receptors as a result of the violation."
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698