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Bereano fined $13K for lead paint violation

A high-priced General Assembly lobbyist is being fined by the Maryland Department of the Environment for owning two Annapolis rowhomes the state says contain lead paint.

Bruce C. Bereano, the fourth-highest earning lobbyist during the 2012 regular legislative session, is being fined $13,000 for a lead pollution violation — which he says is bogus.

“I have been going back and forth with the Department of the Environment, but they are just bureaucratic robots, and they look at the land records and see the building was built in the 1800s, therefore they’ve got to be riddled with lead-based paint,” Bereano said Friday. “I told them everything, they don’t care. They say the land records say this, therefore that. It’s like talking to the wall.”

Bereano said the two rowhouses — on Pinkney Street — were gutted in the 1970s and the developer did not use any lead-based paint inside or outside the buildings. He said no one from the state actually tested for lead paint.

“I know the law. I’m not going to have lead-based paint in my rental properties,” he said. “I’m not a slumlord. I’m just fighting government bureaucracy.”

Bereano was one of more than two dozen who were fined for “alleged violations” in the last several months, according to the MDE. Of the violations, 16 were for lead pollution and eight were for water pollution, including $35,000 in clean water fines charged to Dimensions Health Corp. in Prince George’s County, a pair of $12,500 fines to Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. and the City of Bowie, and a $10,000 fine assessed to the Maryland Jockey Club and Southern Maryland Agricultural Association.

In a statement, MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers said the agency’s job is “to protect public health and our environment.

“The majority of Maryland businesses comply with environmental laws,” Summers said. “A strong and fair enforcement program protects our investment in the environment as well as the health and quality of life of all Maryland residents.”