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United States Files Civil Suit Against Mineola Corporation for Violating Hazardous Air Pollutant Requirements

June 25, 2009

A civil complaint was filed yesterday in federal district court in Brooklyn against Nassau Chromium Plating Co., Inc. (“Nassau Chromium”) for violations of the Clean Air Act and chromium emission regulations. The defendant is the owner and operator of a facility that sprays paint and applies chromium on aluminum and steel parts for, among other things, military and commercial aviation and the marine and automotive industries. The facility is located at 112 Second Street, Mineola, New York.

The complaint was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2.

Pursuant to the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), EPA promulgated regulations, known as the National Emission Standards for Chromium Emissions from Hard and Decorative Chromium Electroplating and Chromium Anodizing Tanks (“Chromium Regulations”). These Regulations require that chromium electroplating tanks and chromium anodizing tanks are operated and maintained in a manner that minimizes the amount of chromium that is emitted into the atmosphere. Chromium electroplating and chromium anodizing processes use the hazardous air pollutant hexavalent chromium and apply a corrosion prevention coating to metal parts. Hexavalent chromium is among the most toxic of air pollutants listed under the CAA. Individuals exposed to hexavalent chromium can develop lung cancer, tumors, asthma, and skin disorders.

According to the complaint, Nassau Chromium has improperly operated and maintained its chromium electroplating and anodizing tanks, both of which use hexavalent chromium. As alleged, Nassau Chromium failed to comply with the Chromium Regulations, including (1) failing to properly monitor the tanks to ensure that they are in compliance with the emissions limitations; (2) failing to operate and maintain the tanks, including air pollution control equipment and monitoring equipment, in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practices and an operation and maintenance plan for the tanks that minimizes the emission of hexavalent chromium; and (3) failing to maintain required records, including records of maintenance, malfunctions, and ongoing compliance. In its complaint, the government seeks injunctive relief requiring Nassau Chromium to comply with all applicable requirements, and monetary penalties of up to $37,500 for each day of violation.

“The violations alleged in the complaint demonstrate a serious disregard for the environment and for public health and safety,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “This Office is committed to vigorous enforcement of the laws regarding air pollution.”

“Business owners and operators that handle chromium should be aware that it is hazardous,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Pavlou. “EPA requires proper operation, monitoring, and reporting by companies such as this one in order to protect public health and the environment.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Lynch and Assistant Regional Counsel Erick Ihlenburg of EPA.

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