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United States Files Civil Suit Against Owner and Operator of Melville Landfill for Violating Hazardous Air Pollutant Requirements

September 30, 2009

A civil complaint was filed in federal district court in Brooklyn against Chester Broman, doing business as 110 Sand Company, and Broad Hollow Estates, Inc. (“the defendants”) for violations of the Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations in connection with the construction and operation of the landfill located at 136 Bethpage-Spagnoli Road in Melville, New York. As alleged in the complaint, the material accepted at the landfill includes wallboard, which contains gypsum. Under anaerobic conditions that are present at the landfill, decay of gypsum results in the generation of landfill gas, which includes hydrogen sulfide (“H2S”). In 1992, to reduce H2S emissions, the defendants constructed a flare to convert H2S to sulfur dioxide (“SO2”). As a result of the landfill’s continued operation without permits and appropriate controls, substantial amounts of H2S and SO2 have been, and continue to have the potential to be, released into the atmosphere.

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 Ambient Air Quality Standards (“NAAQS”) and the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (“PSD”) regulations. The complaint alleges that at times during the period of the alleged violations, the SO2 emissions from the landfill alone, without including any other external source, caused exceedances of the NAAQS and the PSD increments for SO2. In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendants failed to comply with the PSD requirements for both SO2 and H2S. At low levels, H2S causes irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Moderate levels can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, as well as coughing and difficulty in breathing. Higher levels can cause shock, convulsions, coma, and death. SO2 affects the lungs and at high levels may result in burning of the nose and throat, breathing difficulties, and severe airway obstructions.

According to the complaint, the defendants violated the CAA by operating the landfill without first obtaining appropriate permits and without installing and operating the Best Available Control Technology (“BACT”) to control emissions of H2S and SO2. In its complaint, the government seeks injunctive relief requiring the defendants 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.”

“As charged in the complaint, by operating this facility without proper controls, Mr. Broman endangered the health of the people of Suffolk County and the surrounding area,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Pavlou. “The complaint filed today seeks to hold 110 Sand Company and its co-defendants fully accountable for multiple environmental violations by obtaining a significant penalty, and requiring the company to improve its performance by, among other things, continuing operation of recently installed controls and conducting proper monitoring at its facility to avoid future violations.”

The government’s case is being litigated by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah B. Zwany and Assistant Regional Counsel Lilliana Villatora of EPA.

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