Attorney General Cuomo Sues To Hold Junkyard Owners Accountable For Years Of Environmental Damage

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 21, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is suing the owners of a Washington County junkyard for years of environmental damage caused by allowing toxic chemicals to contaminate the air and nearby groundwater.

The suit charges that East Side Used Auto Parts was crushing cars without properly draining the fluids thereby allowing gasoline, petroleum, antifreeze, and Freon to pollute the soil and groundwater wells. According to the lawsuit, the junkyard has also been spilling hazardous chemicals and improperly storing potentially harmful debris including car batteries and tires. The crushing and handling of vehicles and scrap metal at the facility has created noxious odors, dust, smoke, loud noises, and vibrations affecting the health of residents in nearby homes in the Town of Kingsbury

“The owners of this junkyard have recklessly polluted the environment, creating both a health and safety threat as well as ruining the quality of life of its neighbors,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We will hold them accountable for their deplorable actions and blatant disregard for the law. It is time to end the pollution that has burdened the community for far too long.”

East Side Used Auto Parts is located at 3614 Burgoyne Avenue, Hudson Falls, Town of Kingsbury in Washington County.  The junkyard is owned by James Marro and Robert Marro, who began operations at the site in 2003.  The junkyard borders a residential neighborhood on three sides and a public school on the fourth.

Since 2003, the Marros have been repeatedly cited by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for mishandling waste at the site and illegally discharging harmful chemicals into the environment. Residents who live nearby have repeatedly complained of headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties, and loss of sleep due to the junkyard’s operations. The case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by DEC.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, "This facility has been given notice of two dozen DEC violations in less than a year, covering a host of environmental, public health, and quality-of-life issues. We'll be working closely with the Attorney General's office to hold the operators accountable, ensure compliance with stringent air, water, and vehicle dismantling standards, and reduce the impacts to the surrounding community." 

The Attorney General’s suit aims to immediately end all pollutant discharges and nuisance problems associated with the operation of the junkyard.   The suit also seeks to require the Marros to conduct a comprehensive clean-up of any soil and groundwater contamination at or near the site that was caused by the junkyard’s operations.  Finally, the suit seeks to require the Marros to pay civil penalties, which could total more than $50,000 per day for numerous past and current violations of state air, water, vehicle dismantling and other environmental laws.  

The lawsuit announced by the Attorney General today is a critical complement to the Town of Kingsbury’s decision, on May 30, to deny the Marros’ application to renew their junkyard’s operating license.

The suit was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Washington.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Kevin P. Donovan and Michael J. Myers of the Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General Katherine Kennedy.