President Of Metal Finishing Company In Brooklyn Charged With Environmental Crimes

New York State Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced the indictment of an individual and his corporation for the abandonment of thousands of gallons of hazardous wastes at an industrial site in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

Charged in the case are the company -- H.S. Finishing Products Corporation, a metal products finishing company which operated at 1768-84 Dean Street, and corporation president, Mark Packer, 63, of Somers, NY. H.S. Finishing performed electroplating and metal coating operations at the Brooklyn facility for many years. The dilapidated building was abandoned in 2001.

"The presence of these dangerous and flammable chemicals in a building in imminent danger of collapse is an unacceptable situation," Spitzer said. "By leaving the facility in such a state, the defendants placed area residents at risk, and posed a significant threat to the health and safety of police and firefighters responding to the scene in an emergency."

"The parties involved in this case had a responsibility to the community and the environment to handle these materials in a conscientious manner," Commissioner Crotty said. "They failed to live up to that responsibility, and as a result, have put residents in harm’s way. We will continue to work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure that when violations like these create a risk to public health and the environment, the responsible parties are held accountable."

The abandoned facility was discovered in February 2003 when the fire department responded to a report of a water leak at the facility. The firefighters found hundreds of containers and drums that were believed to contain a wide variety of hazardous materials, including corrosives, solvents, acids and cyanide. Once the building was secured, the DEC performed an assessment of the facility. The Environmental Protection Agency was notified and began an Expedited Removal Assessment of the site. The condition of the facility was so dangerous that the EPA arranged for the immediate removal of the chemicals at the building. Over the next several weeks the site was cleaned up and the hazardous materials were removed at a cost in excess of $150,000.

Packer and H.S. Finishing Products Corp. were indicted on four felony counts of Endangering Public Health Safety or the Environment in the Third Degree, and three misdemeanor counts of Endangering Public Health Safety or the Environment in the Fourth Degree. Packer was arraigned today before Kings County Supreme Court Justice Neil J. Firetog.

The investigation revealed that Packer had abandoned the facility and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June of 2001, rather than paying for the disposal of the hazardous materials.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Hugh L. McLean and Julieta Lozano of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. The investigation was conducted by Investigator Neil Ross, and Lieutenant John Mattera, under the supervision of Captain Terrance Revella, of the DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement.