Local News

EQ Slams State Charges as Wrong, Based on Inaccurate Evidence

Posted April 12, 2007 7:10 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2007 8:32 a.m. EDT

— Environmental Quality Industrial Services, facing a half-million-dollar state fine and possible loss of its license to run an industrial-waste facility, has attacked the state's case against the company as "erroneous and inaccurate."

A statement from the Michigan-based company on Thursday came shortly before the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources was to convene a public hearing as part of the permit-revocation process.

EQ's waste sorting-and-transfer station in Apex was gutted in a a raging Oct. 5 nighttime fire that prompted the precautionary evacuation of about 17,000 Apex residents when colored clouds of smoke rose from the facility and firefighters said they did not know what had been stored there.

"A thorough investigation into allegations in the state's proposed termination" of EQ's permit "reveals allegations are erroneous and inaccurate," the company said in a prepared statement from Scott Maris, vice president for regulatory affairs.

State complaints that led to imposition of a $553,225 fine in March. The state citied previous problems with chemical releases and smaller fires at the Apex site that it charged were never reported to state or local officials.

“The incidents in the state’s report never presented a threat to employees nor the environment. EQ was in full compliance in its response," the statement said.

DENR's Division of Waste Management based its decision on “speculation or statements, some second-hand, which were contradicted by reports of eye-witnesses who were directly involved in the incident and/or by documents generated at the time the events occurred,” the company said.

EQ also noted that state inspectors averaged four visits a month to the site, and the company asked how they could have missed alleged violations cited as reasons to revoke the permit.

The Apex facility has remained closed since the fire. EQ officials have expressed a desire to reopen it.

Apex officials have vowed to fight the company's efforts. They also have said that zoning put in place while EQ was open would now prevent any such facility inside the town's borders.