DEP fines metal recycler $250,000

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DEP fines metal recycler $250,000

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First Posted: 11 Mar 2006 07:18 pm

DEP fines metal recycler $250,000

North Jersey Media Group - February 16, 2006


A metal recycling company must pay the state $250,000 for a series of violations at its former plant in Paterson, including storing volatile chemicals too close together and failing to get permits to emit pollutants through its stacks, officials announced Wednesday.

Veridium Corp. shut down its plant on Jasper Street in January for reasons unrelated to the enforcement action that led to the settlement, said Elaine Makatura, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The company and its predecessors were cited seven times by DEP inspectors since 1999.

In one instance, the recycling plant was found to be improperly storing 29,000 pounds of cyanide, acids, bases and other potentially explosive chemicals. Drums of cyanide were stored in a vehicle that also had containers of acid, a potential hazard, Makatura said

Some hazardous waste materials were kept on site for longer than the state-permitted 90 days, while others were stored in containers that weren't properly labeled, Makatura said. "There was some sloppy record-keeping," Makatura said.

The company also failed to obtain a permit for operating a materials dryer on site, which emitted unknown contaminants into the air, Makatura said.

Veridium, which has company offices in Lowell, Mass., will pay the fine in installments through December 2010. Company officials did not return phone calls Wednesday.

"Time and again, this company jeopardized the public's health and safety and our environment by mishandling hazardous materials and neglecting its responsibility to safeguard air quality," acting DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "We have no tolerance for any actions that leave our already overburdened urban communities vulnerable to toxic mishaps."

Veridium had used an innovative method of mining ores such as copper, nickel, chrome and zinc out of byproduct materials, such as wastewater, and then selling it to refiners.

The corporation was formed from a consolidation of five companies in October 2003. Its Jasper Street plant, when operating under the ownership of American Metals Recovery, was the site of a minor fire in October 2001 and an accident in April 2003 in which three workers were sent to the hospital after a tank of hydrofluoric acid ruptured.

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