Attorney General Files Suit On Behalf Of CDPHE To Collect Penalties From Hazardous Waste Violators

DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John Suthers today announced that the Department of Law has filed three separate lawsuits in state district court on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The lawsuits seek overdue fines assessed against Robert Lewis, operator of The Cleaners in Boulder; Clean Parts, Inc. in Commerce City; and Compass Industrial Coatings, Inc., located in Colorado Springs. CDPHE ordered each of the three defendants to pay fines ranging from $8,332 to $23,280 for violations of Colorado’s hazardous waste regulations discovered during inspections of their facilities.

“Penalties levied by the State are not optional,” commented Attorney General Suthers. “The State contends these three defendants ignored Colorado statute, and is taking steps to ensure monetary fines are collected.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment enforces Colorado’s hazardous waste law and regulations. In these three cases, CDPHE issued administrative orders that required monetary penalties and cleanup actions to address the cited violations. Despite numerous meetings and informal attempts to obtain payment, the named defendants each have failed to pay the assessed amounts. Failure to pay an administrative penalty on time constitutes an additional violation of the law, and can carry added civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each day of nonpayment. In theses cases, overdue payments date as far back as May 6, 2006.

“Those subject to compliance orders of the State cannot ignore their obligations, including payment of assessed penalties,” said Gary Baughman, director of CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division. “Today, the Department is using these three cases to send a message to the entire regulated community that failing to pay penalties, no matter how small, will be met with a swift, decisive response that will result in a much more costly outcome than would have resulted from payment of the initial penalty.”

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