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Post date: April 11 2001

Spitzer Announces $3.75 Million Resolution In Rockland Co. Environmental Pollution Case

Attorney General Spitzer today announced civil and criminal dispositions in related cases where two companies will pay a total of $3.75 million, including penalties and fines, in connection with an environmental pollution case in Rockland County.

Philip Metals, Inc. has pled guilty under the Environmental Conservation Law to unlawfully disposing of lead waste, and agreed to pay $1 million, which includes a $250,000 fine. In a related civil matter, Telesector Resources Group (TRG), a wholly-owned subsidiary of NYNEX, has agreed to pay $2.75 million, which includes a $100,000 penalty.

The two companies were involved in recycling NYNEX's copper cables as the company switched over to fiber optics. The cables had a lead sheath, and the sludge and dust were the byproduct of the recycling efforts.

Some $3 million of the settlement will be used to buy land in the Hudson Highlands, an area along the western side of the Hudson River in either Rockland, Orange or Ulster Counties, that will be used as parkland.

"This settlement will benefit the people of the Hudson Highlands area and all of New York for generations to come," said Spitzer. "The resolution of this case represents the best of both worlds- we have taken what was an environmental problem, cleaned it up, and will now use the settlement monies from this case to create an environmental jewel near the Hudson River."

Orangetown Supervisor Thom Kleiner said, "We applaud the Attorney General and his staff for their efforts in securing this important environmental victory."

TRG ran the recycling effort for NYNEX at a facility located at 2-5 Glenshaw Road in Orangeburg from 1988 until May of 1997. TRG then contracted with Philip Metals to take over the operation of the facility. In October of 1998, the Attorney General's office executed a search warrant at Philip Metals and seized records and samples of materials. The business voluntarily closed shortly thereafter.

When Philip ran the facility it improperly disposed of lead dust. Instead of taking legally mandated measures, Philip employees simply swept up the dust and discarded it in a dumpster. In addition, its employees disposed of lead-contaminated waste water by pouring it directly onto the ground behind the plant, and squeegeed lead-contaminated sludge and waste water down a drain that emptied into the Rockland County sewage system.

TRG, which has admitted no wrongdoing, agreed to settle a related civil action stemming from its prior leasing of the property and agreements it entered into with various independent contractors in connection with the recycling efforts.

Following the execution of the Attorney General's search warrant at the site, TRG spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up the facility. Today, the site houses a plastic bag manufacturing company.

Spitzer commended NYNEX as a good corporate citizen for its actions after it became aware of the improprieties, including its efforts in the clean-up, its cooperation throughout the case, and the multimillion dollar payment for the purchase of parkland.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Hugh McLean, Jo Faber and Rocky Piaggione of the Environmental Crimes Unit, Gordon Johnson of the Environmental Protection Bureau, and investigator Michael Finamore under the direction of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Chief Janet Cohn and Criminal Division Chief Peter Pope.