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WASHINGTON CHEMICAL INC: WASTE RECYCLER SUES DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY

WASHINGTON CHEMICAL INC: WASTE RECYCLER SUES DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
 SPOKANE, Wash., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Washington Chemical Inc.:
 As a result of a recent fine levied against it, Washington Chemical Inc., the largest hazardous waste recycler in Eastern Washington, has sued Washington's Department of Ecology (DOE) for breach of agreement and damages.
 That suit, which alleges a 1988 agreement by DOE to issue a new permit to Washington Chemical, follows a related suit Washington Chemical brought last year to force disclosure of DOE documents concerning its enforcement policies and activities against Washington Chemical.
 The suit was brought, according to Washington Chemical's President Donn Herron, because the "secrecy with which DOE operates and the arbitrary manner in which it determines violations and penalties must be brought out from behind closed doors."
 Herron stated that DOE's recent fine and order against Washington Chemical were nothing more than retaliation for last year's lawsuit. "We categorically deny each and every charge in the recent order and penalty and believe the DOE's false, misleading and hypocritical press release and quoted statements are in retaliation for our efforts to shed light on DOE enforcement activities and penalty policies.
 "Given the fact that many of the alleged problems for which Washington Chemical was fined were addressed two years ago as part of the agreement to modify and issue a new permit, we have not choice but to sue DOE for breach of its agreement," Herron said.
 Herron cited as examples of false and misleading statements the DOE allegations of illegal expansion, inadequate facility closure costs, denial of inspection and the nature and status of previous enforcement activities.
 As to illegal expansion, Herron stated, "We have lawfully created and used a 90-day storage area at the direction of and with the consent of DOE." DOE's knowledge and consent are contained in internal DOE documents from its Permit Section of its Enforcement Section, Herron said.
 The facility closure cost issue was addressed two years ago, according to Herron. "In response to DOE's concerns, Washington Chemical increased its closure cost to over $53,000. We agreed to revise the cost and submit it to DOE for approval," Herron said. Herron further added, "They have not responded at all in two years. Now they fine us?"
 In the matter of denial of access, Herron stated, "DOE and EPA spent four days inspecting the facility. In that four days, they had free and unrestricted access to all areas. To claim otherwise is ludicrous."
 Last, as to the claim of a previous $90,000 fine levied in 1990, Herron commented, "The fine was originally $138,000. The fine was reduced by $48,000 voluntarily by DOE without so much as a hearing because they lacked any evidence to support the allegations." Herron continued, "The remaining $90,000 is the subject of an appeal which has been delayed by DOE because it refuses to produce documents and information concerning its enforcement activities against Washington Chemical and the calculation of the $90,000 penalty.
 "Washington Chemical has safely recycled hundreds of thousands of gallons of hazardous waste for over 600 generators in the region," Herron said. "There have been no unreported waste spills, misrepresentations of waste or illegal operations. We will not be the scapegoat for DOE's political agenda to promote a large West-side sponsored incinerator interest and to gradually force out smaller Eastern Washington recycling facilities."
 Herron stressed the need for eastside recyclers like Washington Chemical as important to the region's continued economic growth. "I hope the site assessment officials of Alaska Airlines do not consider the potential lack of hazardous waste management facilities in the area a detriment to locating a facility here. I would," Herron said.
 -O- 2/3/92
 /CONTACT: Donn R. Herron of Washington Chemical, 509-489-9176/ CO: Washington Chemical Inc. ST: Washington IN: SU:


RR-JH -- SE006 -- 6382 02/03/92 17:05 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 3, 1992
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