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DEC cites city for cheese plant violations

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The city is prepared to clean up contamination at the idled Tubroburg cheese plant after receiving a notice of violation from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

At Monday’s meeting, the City Council will decide whether to approve a $25,000 cleanup of the King Street plant, but may have little choice but to green-light the operation after the DEC order.

“They did an inspection, those tanks are registered tanks and they discovered some product is still in the tanks,” said Mayor William D. Nelson.“It is just a corrective action because the city is the owner of the cheese plant.”

The notice requests Ogdensburg clean up a 12,000 gallon petroleum bulk storage tank and 36 drums of waste liquid left behind after the plant’s operators, Tubroburg LLC, halted operations in January 2011.

DEC inspectors entered the plant on June 25 to find inadequate marking on the storage containers, that the city had failed to display a registration certificate for the fuel tank and did not conduct required monthly inspections of the site.

The inspection also noted unlabled containers filled with unknown substances.

Steven W. Litwhiler, DEC Region 6 spokesman, said the tank is the most concerning issue.

“Fuel tanks registered with the DEC must be properly labelled, inspected and maintained,” he said. “The letter was primarily to address the petroleum bulk storage violations.”

The violations, six in all, each carry a penalty of $37,500 per day.

“They need to get back to us on when and how they are going to fix it,” said Mr. Litwhiler. “Our goal is always compliance with those violations because we don’t want environmental contamination to occur.”

Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley said the site might also contain curdled milk never processed by the plant.

“The silo is filled with curdled milk never used when the plant was active,” he said. “There were all sorts of things left behind.”

If the council passes the resolution, Paragon Environmental Construction of Brewerton will remove the unmarked drums and decommission the fuel tank.

“Whatever issues that need to be complied with, we’re going to take the corrective actions,” said Mr. Nelson.

Councilman Daniel E. Skamperle said the city would hold Tubroburg LLC responsible for any costs associated with the cleanup.

“It is my understanding that any charges from this will be billed to Tubro, but that will be part of litigation,” he said.

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