DES MOINES, IowaA federal judge in Des Moines has ordered Titan Tire Corp. and Dico Inc. to pay nearly $3.1 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for tearing down buildings the agency said were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous pollutants.
Titan President and CEO Maurice Morry Taylor said his company will appeal.
According to Mr. Taylor, only about 41/100th ounce of PCBsroughly a teaspoonfulwas ever found at the building site.
He also said the EPA and the court ignored evidence of other companies' dumping wastes at the site; of homeless persons' squatting in the vacant buildings; and of methamphetamine labs operating in the woods nearby.
The whole thing is a big joke, Mr. Taylor said.
There are some judges who just assume that if the government says something, it must be right.
The Justice Department sued Titan and Dico in Des Moines federal district court in October 2010, on behalf of the EPA. The suit claimed Titan and Dico violated Superfund statutes at the Des Moines building site.
According to the 2010 complaint, the EPA ordered Dico in the early 1990s to conduct a remedial investigation of the buildings in question, which were in severe disrepair.
A flood in July 1993 devastated the Des Moines site, according to the complaint. Shortly thereafter, Titan acquired Dico and its parent company, Dyneer Corp.
Titan and Dico completed removal of contaminated soil and beams from the De Moines site by October 2009, the complaint said. However, the agency said it incurred at least $94,000 in costs in responding to the release of PCBs.
On Feb. 24 Judge Robert W. Pratt ordered Titan and Dico to pay the EPA $1.62 million in civil penalties and $1.48 million in punitive damages.