For almost three weeks, a Nebraska painting contractor was prepping a 997-foot guyed tower in Woodberry, MD, to be repainted by either pressure washing or grinding off existing layers of paint on the structure, according to residents.
In the process, paint chips, some as large as a palm of a hand, have rained down from the candelabra structure on residential and business properties as well as on a public park’s playground.
A homeowner, along with other neighbors in the North Baltimore neighborhood known as Television Hill, who have also spotted the red paint chips on their cars and lawns, started sounding the alarm on social media after one resident obtained an over-the-counter home test kit at a drugstore and the chips tested positive for lead.
The Baltimore Brew broke the story, identifying yesterday that state inspectors from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) confirmed the neighborhood’s worst fear that the paint chips contained lead.
The inspectors “performed testing on the chips using a field device, which detected the presence of lead in the paint,” according to Mark Shaffer, communications director for the MDE.
The contractor was identified as Skyline Tower Painting, Inc.
Yesterday, Skyline was told to sample the paint chips – as well as the paint still present on the tower – to determine whether it constitutes hazardous waste, Shaffer said.
Skyline should have obtained a permit to do the work but does not appear to have done so, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
MDE informed the Baltimore Brew that Skyline “has vacuumed paint debris from some of the surrounding areas, including a daycare center, and is working with the homeowners’ association to remove paint chips from the remaining areas affected.”
MDE is also is preparing “enforcement actions to address and correct violations related to hazardous waste generation, lead abatement accreditation, and lead safe work practices.”
There is also a concern that the lead paint could have been introduced into the Jones Fall waterway.
As of yesterday evening, local TV stations did not find the neighborhood concern about lead paint newsworthy, possibly because the tower is owned jointly by WJZ‐TV, WBAL‐TV, and WMAR‐TV under the corporate name Television Tower Inc.
The tower was constructed in 1964 at a time when lead-based paint was commonly used.