Florida environmental officials have taken formal enforcement action against Utah-based Thatcher Chemical of Florida, Inc., following the company's improper disposal of chemical waste near its facility at DeLand and Palmetto, Fla.
The company will have to take immediate corrective action, including a cleanup of the contamination, and will have to pay more than $230,000 in civil penalties, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced. The department will also consult law enforcement officials to decide whether criminal charges could be pressed.
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The department inspected the facility in August 2013 after receiving complaints that employees of Thatcher Chemical were burying chemical waste at the site. On-site inspection revealed contamination of the soil and a significant amount of chemicals buried underground. An investigation revealed that the company has been burying chemical waste repeatedly in the past few years, with an estimated amount of between 100,000 to 200,000 pounds of ferric sulfate sludge disposed of in the woods behind the facility between 2010 and 2011. In addition, Thatcher Company was also found to have been discharging pollutants into the ground, the DEP noted.
Commenting on the case, Jeff Prather, director of the DEP's Central District, stated that the department would pursue maximum penalties in cases where businesses are grossly negligent towards public health and harm the environment through deliberate, calculated actions.