LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – Financial Assets Seized to Pay Cleanup Costs at Illegal Dumps in Rensselaer County Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and DEC Commissioner Denise Sheehan today announced that the state has been awarded more than $2 million in penalties and cleanup costs for three illegal tire and solid waste dumps in Rensselaer County. A state court judge froze a bank account of one of the dump operators to secure payment of the cleanup costs.
“This court order will help preserve the environment of Rensselaer County and protect public health,” said Attorney General Spitzer. “This case sends a message to unscrupulous operators that if they break the law they run the risk of losing their personal assets. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for environmental scofflaws.”
DEC Commissioner Sheehan said: “Under Governor Pataki, New York has made tremendous strides in addressing illegal waste tire piles throughout the state. This decision sends an important signal to those who think they can avoid responsibility for their actions.”
The three dump sites on Route 67 in the town of Pittstown in Rensselaer County contain over 110,00 old tires, dozens of abandoned and dilapidated trailers, junked vehicles and other debris.
The dump sites were owned and/or operated by Almag Construction Inc., Doramerica Inc., Maria Stathacos, and William Stroffoleno as well as Martin Doran, who is now deceased.
In October 2005, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against each of the parties for operating solid waste management facilities without necessary permits and for persistent illegality and fraud in the operation of the sites. The dump operators routinely accepted large quantities of waste and allowed it to collect on the sites for years. All of the sites, located near the Johnsonville Post Office, constitute health and fire hazards and community eyesores. Over the years, several fires broke out at the illegal dump site on School Street and the Almag site on Route 67.
The town of Pittstown cleaned up one of the sites in 2003 and the Attorney General’s Office sought and obtained reimbursement for the town’s expenses.
The illegal dump sites involved in this enforcement action include:
• the 21-acre Almag site on Route 67;
• the three-acre Stathacos site at 13 School Street; and,
• the two-acre Mom’s Mart site across Route 67 from the Almag site.
A May 11, 2006 decision in Albany County Supreme Court ordered the parties to pay $279,000 in cleanup costs to the state and the local government and pay penalties and costs of approximately of $1.8 million to the state. An investment account of one of the defendants, Maria Stathacos, was seized, resulting in the state receiving $342,000 in partial satisfaction of the court order.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Loretta Simon of the Environmental Protection Bureau with the assistance of Senior Investigator Michael Battisti, and DEC Assistant Regional Attorney Ann Lapinski.