Agreement Will Cut Plant Pollution And Odors

Attorney General Spitzer and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced an agreement with a plastics coating company to curtail noxious emissions that have plagued residential neighborhoods in Monroe County.

Luster-Coate Metallizing Corp. of Churchville was facing charges of violating state environmental laws for releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from its plant at 32 East Buffalo St. Such chemicals contribute to the formation of smog. In addition, the VOCs released from the plant plagued nearby residents with overpowering odors, causing headaches and dizziness and occasionally forcing people to stay indoors and keep their windows closed.

After lengthy negotiations, Luster-Coate owner Thomas Sherwood agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty to the state for environmental violations. Sherwood further agreed to install nearly $500,000-worth of emissions control technology that will all but eliminate the release of VOCs.

"This agreement achieves three laudable goals," said Spitzer. "It ensures that Luster-Coate will comply with state environmental regulations; it preserves hundreds of jobs that the company has created; and it improves the quality of life for residents who live near the plant. This result could not have been achieved without cooperation between my office and the Department of Environmental Conservation and the willing participation of the company."

Cahill said: "With this agreement, Luster-Coate is protecting the environment and acting as a good neighbor in the community. DEC will continue to work with Attorney General Spitzer to protect New York's environment and natural resources by prosecuting those who abuse them."

Luster-Coate specializes in applying high-gloss coatings to plastic components used in various industries, including the automotive industry. The company employs nearly 200 people at its Churchville plant and at a related warehouse in Warsaw, Wyoming County.

The settlement between Luster-Coate and the state calls for the company to:

  • Address recurrent odor problems at the plant;
  • Ensure prompt compliance with future environmental regulations;
  • Evaluate additional technology modifications to further reduce plant emissions, and;
  • Involve the community in efforts to improve the plant's environmental performance.

Local residents complained for years that noxious fumes from the plant -- described as smelling like paint thinner -- regularly wafted through their neighborhoods. A 1998 petition by neighbors to Luster-Coate management noted that the odors "have caused headaches, nausea, and difficulty breathing, to name a few. The fumes make us prisoners in our own homes."

Under the agreement, the emissions control equipment must be installed within 90 days and is subject to inspection, testing and approval by DEC.

The environmental agreement between the state and Luster-Coate does not absolve the company of responsibility for any future violations of the law.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Eugene Kelly of the Environmental Protection Bureau and by DEC Region 8 attorney Paul D'Amato.

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