Company Fined For Damaging Residential Property
Attorney General Spitzer and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced that a New Hampshire-based company has pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of contaminated soil in Greene County.
The company - Clean Waters of America Environmental Services, Inc. - is based in Epson, New Hampshire and operates a plant on Route 28 in the Town of Athens, Greene County, where it converts petroleum contaminated soil into an asphalt mix designed to be used in road and parking lot construction.
Company officials pleaded guilty today in Greene County Court in Catskill before Hon. George Pulver Jr. to one count of Third Degree Criminal Mischief, a class E felony, for damaging the property of a Catskill homeowner by illegally giving him its asphalt mix for use as clean fill without telling him the substance could contaminate soil and groundwater. As stated in court today, in Spring 2000, Clean Waters of America gave away its asphalt product to as many as 40 other Greene county property owners for use as clean fill.
"This company marketed itself as an environmentally sensitive business and then betrayed that image at the expense of trusting New Yorkers," said Attorney General Spitzer. "My office will continue working with Commissioner Crotty and the Department of Environmental Conservation to diligently enforce our environmental laws."
DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "By marketing contaminated material as clean fill, this company showed a blatant disregard for the environment and the people of Greene County. The joint effort by the DEC and the Attorney General's office on this case demonstrates New York's commitment to protecting our environment, and will allow us to investigate potentially affected sites and undertake cleanup activities if necessary."
As part of today's court action, Clean Waters of America will:
- pay a $5,000 fine;
- be permanently barred from reprocessing contaminated soil in New York State;
- place $70,000 in escrow to repair property damaged by the company.
Clean Waters of America brought to its Athens plant soil from around New England that had been contaminated with oil, usually from leaking underground storage tanks or from truck spills. The contaminated soil was treated at the plant and manufactured into a cold asphalt mix designed for limited use in paving applications. As part of its operating permit from the DEC, the company was required to give its customers oral and written instructions on using the asphalt mix.
Clean Waters of America ran afoul of the law when it was unable to find sufficient markets for its asphalt product while pressure on the Athens plant built to process more shipments of contaminated soil. In response, Athens plant manager Keith Logosso gave away the asphalt mix to local residents as clean fill without telling them what it was made of or of the associated environmental risks, including possible soil and water contamination from oil leaching out of the asphalt.
The DEC investigated the case and referred it to the Attorney General's office for prosecution.DEC will inspect properties where the asphalt mix was used as fill to determine the degree of environmental damage and arrange for cleanup, where appropriate, using money from the $70,000 Clean Waters of America has been ordered to place in escrow.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Rocky Piaggione and Christopher Amato under the supervision of Criminal Prosecution Bureau Chief Janet Cohn. Investigator Stephen Canfield is handling the matter for DEC.