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Post date: September 23 1999

State Sues Orange County Junk Yard For Polluting Hudson River

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John Cahill today filed a lawsuit against a Newburgh auto junk yard and scrap metal facility that is contaminating the Hudson River with oil and other pollutants.

"The Hudson River is a unique and precious resource that the state holds in trust for future generations," said Spitzer. "We are committed to careful stewardship that includes aggressive action against those who fail to take appropriate precautions against runoff of toxic materials into the river."

"By flagrantly ignoring the law and continuing to allow hazardous substances to pollute the Hudson River, this facility has endangered one of New York's most important natural resources," Cahill said. "Today's action puts all polluters on notice that DEC will not hesitate to use its enforcement authority to ensure that this precious resource is protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy."

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Orange County, contends that Consolidated Iron and Metal Co., Inc. and its owner, Michael Laskin, leaked and spilled automobile fluids including petroleum and hazardous substances such as ethylene glycol, benzene and gasoline that washed off the 10-acre site into the Hudson River during rain storms. The lawsuit also contends that Consolidated Iron and Laskin improperly disposed of toxic lead generated by an aluminum smelter which operated at the site for over 20 years.

The complaint further charges that Consolidated Iron and Laskin have been illegally operating a hazardous and solid waste facility without required permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and without registering with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Violations of state environmental laws include failure to prevent migration of hazardous wastes and failure to take safety precautions for emergencies, such as the release of hazardous wastes into the environment.

At the request of the DEC, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is currently removing hazardous materials from two waste piles at the facility. The state lawsuit seeks a cleanup of contamination in soils and groundwater at the site and to prevent further discharges of pollution to the Hudson River.

The case against Consolidated Iron and Laskin was developed by the DEC which referred the matter to the Attorney General for prosecution.

In addition to filing this lawsuit, the state is pressing criminal charges against Consolidated Iron and Laskin over their violation of state environmental laws. Those charges are pending in the City Court of Newburgh.