Friday, July 19, 2013

Company questioned after HazMat scare

Updated: Thursday, 18 Jul 2013, 6:48 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 18 Jul 2013, 6:48 PM EDT
Art Kohn

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - Environmental Inspectors continue to monitor Gloucester company Advanced Finishing Systems after a release of toxic gas Wednesday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: VDEM: Nitric acid overheated, vaporized

The Environmental Protection Agency says AFS had a violation back in 2010 -- a violation 10 On Your Side wanted to know more about.

According the EPA, AFS had a state inspection in April of 2009 and a Compliance Evaluation Inspection in September of 2010.

Information on the EPA’s website says the company was cited by the EPA for a, "Significant Non-Compliance" sometime between September and July of 2010, but no where does the EPA explain the nature of that noncompliance, which according to the Government, remains unresolved.

Since that time, the EPA has had very little else to say about that violation or how the company is doing now.

A company executive told that the Environmental Inspectors with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality who visited the facility Thursday morning found no problems and did not cite the company for any violations.

Mike Miller is mowing a neighbor's lawn, but he wonders about the government's interest in one of his other neighbors.

"It may be something minor and it may be something. I hate to see people get into trouble for something that's not necessary, but if it's something that's going to effect the public and the people in the area, then they should know something about it,” Miller said.

But the EPA says policy forbids them from talking about an ongoing investigation -- policy the agency says is in the public's best interest.

"Actually, releasing sensitive enforcement information that may jeopardize settlement negotiations could in fact possibly result in less protection of public health and the environment,” said EPA Spokesperson Terry White on the phone with

"Three years and they can't tell us anything? Who's doing their investigating?" asked Audrey Lemmon, who lives near AFS, Inc.

Lemmon lives about a mile or less from AFS with her two-year-old grandson and wants the EPA to share information about the violation back in 2010.

AFS released this statement to 10 On Your Side: "As for our community, we are constantly checked on to make sure we are in compliance with the chemicals that we hold in this facility."

10 On Your Side obtained a full copy of the EPA's disclosure policy.

AFS executives told Thursday they want the EPA to go public with the report because it shows their neighbors the original violation was not significant and the issue has been resolved.


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