The owner of a Richmond metal plating company has pleaded guilty to four felony counts and nine misdemeanor charges related to the unlawful handling of hazardous material at her business, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced Friday.
Marion Patigler, the owner of Electro-Forming Co., who has a history of alleged hazardous waste violations, now faces three years in jail if she does not immediately shutter her business at 103 Nevin Ave.
In March 2014, the company and Patigler were charged with 11 felonies and 12 misdemeanors for the illegal disposal, storage, treatment and transportation of hazardous waste over a two-year period beginning in March 2011.
On a tip, state investigators searched the site and found, among other violations, cyanide stored near acid, which could combine to form a deadly gas. The company was also accused of illegally disposing of hazardous waste in the streets and on adjacent property.
The findings led to a preliminary injunction, but in August a follow-up investigation revealed the company and its owners were not complying with the injunction, the DTSC said. The company’s actions continued to represent an environmental threat to neighboring properties, the agency added.
Hazardous waste violations from the latest inspection included:
- The storage in open containers of fine particulate metal dust, which was generated by buffing plated parts.
- The fine particulate metal dust also covered much of the facility and contaminated neighboring properties.
- A 275-gallon drum of acid waste was unaccounted for.
The DTSC said Patigler faces jail time if she fails to comply immediately with conditions, including closing the business; removing all hazardous materials, waste and equipment from the site; ceasing any type of business that generates hazardous waste; completing 200 hours of community service; and paying more than $500,000 in criminal fines and restitution to the DTSC. Patigler has reportedly agreed to comply with the conditions.
“Our enforcement partnership with the Contra Costa County District Attorney stopped this toxic menace to the local community,” Reed Sato, chief counsel for DTSC, said in a statement. “DTSC initiates criminal enforcement actions to protect citizens and show toxic violators that there are serious consequences from mishandling hazardous wastes.”
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