- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - An Ohio company is accusing the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and two department employees of letting a Mississippi contractor hide pollution at a hazardous waste recycling site in Yazoo City.

U.S. Technology Corp. of Canton, Ohio, says in a federal lawsuit that the alleged actions cost it millions of dollars in extra cleanup costs, The Clarion-Ledger reported (https://on.thec-l.com/1PtmpOy) .

“We cannot comment on ongoing litigation except to say the claims are without merit,” DEQ spokesman Robbie Wilbur said. “We are confident in the work of our staff following the laws and the regulations to ensure the environment and human health are protected.”

The contractor’s former owner, Dennie Eugene Pridemore, pleaded guilty in 2007 to improperly disposing of hazardous metals and lying to cover up the scheme.

DEQ assured U.S. Technology that it visited the site often and approved the operation. It alleges that a DEQ employee knew about holes used to hide or illegally dump barrels of hazardous waste, according to the lawsuit filed in July.

An employee made unannounced visits once or twice a month to Hydromex Inc. in Yazoo City, spending hours there. He inspected concrete pads and was seen standing inside holes at least 5 feet deep, which were used to hide or illegally dispose of barrels of hazardous waste used to strip paint from airplanes.

“Hydromex employees either believed that (the man) approved of all of the activities going on at Hydromex or that a financial benefit was being received to look the other way,” according to the lawsuit.

The Air Force paid Pridemore to recycle the waste, which was contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium and lead, according to federal prosecutors.

U.S. Technology’s lawsuit said it paid Hydromex more than $1 million over a 26-month period to recycle spent blast material.

Hydromex was shut down in November 2002.

“The current delay in finishing and closing the site has caused substantial damages as well as handling the additional material which our client alleges should not have been on site if the misrepresentations and concealment had not occurred,” said Laura Mills, an attorney for UST.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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