• Local company fined millions for polluting Chattahoochee

    By: Craig Lucie

    Updated:

    A judge just handed down a $10 million fine against a local company accused of polluting the Chattahoochee River with toxic chemicals.

    Channel 2’s Craig Lucie interviewed the man who took video of the dump site and sparked our original investigation from Jodie Fleischer back in February.

    “Just on this side of Industrial Parkway and less than 100 feet from river is where they were dumping oily material,” said Jason Ulseth.

    Jason Ulseth is the riverkeeper who shot the video which lead a U.S. District Court Judge to levy a $10 million fine on American Sealcoat Manufacturing.

    “It sends a powerful message to the entire industrial community that this type of pollution and these problems are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated,” said Ulseth.

    Jodie Fleischerback in February. “Just on this side of Industrial Parkway and less than 100 feet from river is where they were dumping oily material,” said Jason UlsethJason Ulseth is the riverkeeper who shot the video which lead a U.S. District Court judge to levy a $10 million fine on American Sealcoat Manufacturing.“It sends a powerful message to the entire industrial community that this type of pollution and these problems are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated,” said Ulseth.

     The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper filed a lawsuit in the summer of 2014 against the asphalt sealant manufacturer after they say they were operating without an industrial storm water permit and intentionally dumping toxic chemicals into a stream that flows directly into the Hooch.

    “There were oily stains on a pipe, in the creek and it looked like they had been polluting for quite some time,” said Ulseth.
     
    Pollutants are leaking into the Hooch right now and CRK has filed a lawsuit against property owner M&K Warehouses to get it stop and clean up the dump site.
     
    “The tenant of the property has left and abandoned the site, but the toxic waste pit is still there and every time it rains it’s picking up more pollutants and transporting them downstream into the river. This toxic dump pit is less than 1000 feet from river,” said Ulseth. 

    Monday, Lucie went to Sealcoats offices and they could see thick residue under several cargo doors. Lucie attempted to reach Sealcoat’s attorneys and we are waiting to hear back.

    M&K Warehouse’s attorneys sent this statement:

    The judgment entered against the former tenant, American Sealcoat Manufacturing (“ASM”) in the lawsuit filed against ASM by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (“CRK”) was a default judgment – meaning the court entered a judgment for the amount that was requested by CRK, without presentation or consideration by the Court of any of the actual facts or defenses of ASM. As for the separate action filed against M&K by CRK, we contend that M&K is not responsible for the actions of ASM, as the lease between M&K and ASM required ASM to comply with all laws related to their operation. We dispute that there is an issue with respect to ongoing discharges from the property.  Since ASM abandoned the site in December 2014, M&K has worked cooperatively with EPA and the State to address any remaining environmental issues caused by ASM at the property and has incurred considerable expense in doing so.

    After February investigation, the local owner of Sealcoat gave us pictures of the toxic spill and insisted that the toxins never drained into the creek.

    “I’m being accused of something and my name is being thrown in the dirt for something that I don’t believe is true,” said Kim Fragle.
     
    Ulseth said his video is proof that they revealed the truth and a judge agreed.
     
    “We will not tolerate pollution in the Chattahoochee River,” said Ulseth.

    The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said it will be up to the Department of Justice to recover the funds. If they are recovered, they said the money will go to the U.S. Treasury.

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