NOTE: As is the case in many ATSDR assessments, fluorides are not mentioned in the article below, but are a main item of concern. According to EPA documents (1), the containers cited in the article below contain numerous fluoride compounds including chlorine monofluoride, boron trifluroide, iodine pentafluoride, bromine trifluoride, pentafluoroethylene, hydrogen fluoride, silicofluorides, antimony pentafluoride, and others.
Polluted plant prompts lawsuit
EPA seeks damages against Flura Corp. and its president
Knoxville News Sentinel - June 26, 2004
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Greeneville seeking damages from Flura Corp. and its president for actions involving a polluted former chemical plant in Cocke County.
For years the Flura plant, on Rock Hill Road east of Newport, was used to manufacture organic fluorine chemicals. But in March 1999, officials of EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation conducted an on-site inspection that resulted in citations after chemicals were found leaking from decaying containers.
The lawsuit, filed June 18 under the federal Resource Recovery Act, alleges many of the more than 2,000 chemical containers were "corroded, rusted or showed evidence of leaking."
In addition, a 20,000-gallon tank of wastewater from the operation was found to be leaking. The EPA said the tank contained a variety of contaminants including arsenic, cadmium, lead and cyanide.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl Fingerhood said an examination of a nearby well used as a source of drinking water "revealed cyanide and potential off-site migration of hazardous chemicals from the tanks."
The suit adds that the EPA has determined that the hazardous waste may pose "an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment."
Flura was ordered to clean up the site in June 1999, but officials say much of the contamination "continued unabated" nine months later. The EPA ordered Flura to shut down operations and give the agency and its contractors access to the site for a cleanup.
Prosecutors say Flura and its president, Ed Tyczkowski, failed to comply with the order by interfering with EPA's access to the facility.
The lawsuit asks that Flura and its president stop interfering with the agency's work, pay a fine up to $5,500 for every day that it violated EPA regulations, stop handling hazardous waste and reimburse the federal agency for its costs.
Ac Blain Retchmeir, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said a consent decree is pending in which Flura and Tyczkowski agree to comply with federal cleanup orders and limits Tyczkowski's future possession and handling of hazardous waste.
"But because of the insolvency of the firm and Tyczkowski's inability to pay, the proposed decree does not seek a penalty," Retchmeir said Friday.
John E. Eldridge, an attorney representing the firm, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the litigation.
A Superfund site, the Flura property has been cleared of virtually all buildings in a cleanup operation that has cost taxpayers about $8.5 million. Cocke County authorities are scheduled to auction the 29.5-acre property in August to collect $23,630 owed in back taxes.