Clean Harbors Fights Back Against Adams County to Save Deer Trail Facility

Date: September 5, 2006

Source: Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc.

Clean Harbors Files Injunction against Adams County for Interfering with Lawful Business Operations; Company Compelled by County Commissioners' Actions

Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., the leading provider of environmental and hazardous waste management services throughout North America, has been compelled to take legal action against Adams County to stop the County Commissioners from interfering with the licensed operation of the company's hazardous waste management facility in Deer Trail, Colorado.

On September 1, Clean Harbors filed a motion for preliminary injunction with the Adams County District Court of Colorado. The injunction requests the following relief from the Court:

  • Prevent the County from issuing any cease and desist order grounded on the faulty premise that the Clean Harbors 2004 Certificate of Designation (CD) prohibits the acceptance, treatment and disposal of licensed and permitted materials;

  • Prevent the County from initiating any administrative proceedings to suspend or revoke the CD, to the extent those proceedings are grounded on the faulty premise that the CD prohibits the acceptance, treatment and disposal of licensed or permitted materials;

  • Grant Clean Harbors reasonable attorneys' fees and related expenses; and

  • Grant any further relief that the Court deems proper.

"Clean Harbors deeply regrets having to take this defensive posture but had no choice since Adams County continues to place frivolous legal and administrative roadblocks in front of our efforts to serve Colorado's communities and environment," stated Phillip Retallick, the company's Senior Vice President for Compliance and Regulatory Affairs. "We have made every effort to take the high road, pursuing amicable negotiations with the Commissioners and offering to provide them with veto power over any expansion plans that involve the management of radioactive waste. In response, the County has threatened to revoke our Certificate of Designation and filed multiple unsuccessful lawsuits against us."

Last month Adams County District Court Judge John E. Popovich Jr. ruled that Adams County did not have standing to sue the state of Colorado for issuing a hazardous waste permit to the Deer Trail facility in December 2005. That decision complemented a May 5 ruling by Denver District Court Judge Robert L. McGahey Jr. to dismiss Adams County's appeal of the radioactive materials disposal license that was also issued to Deer Trail by the state in December 2005.

Having been through the state's rigorous licensing and permitting processes, the Deer Trail facility was granted the ability to accept materials that fall below Colorado's statutory threshold for "radioactive waste," which is .002 microcuries per gram. This definition includes naturally occurring radioactive materials and technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM/TENORM), which are so low-level that the state specifically exempts them from regulation as a "radioactive waste."

Among other sources, NORM/TENORM materials are found in drinking water treatment residues that come from municipalities that must comply with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act's new radionuclide maximum contaminant levels. Though Adams County already allows such residues to be disposed of in a Bennett landfill that is engineered to standards far below that of the Deer Trail facility, the Commissioners have threatened to file civil and criminal charges against Clean Harbors should it accept NORM/TENORM at Deer Trail, as it is authorized to do so by the state of Colorado.

"The County's public pronouncements have interfered with our ability to conduct business in a manner entirely consistent with state environmental regulations," noted Retallick. "The County's actions amount to harassment and have prompted Clean Harbors to act in a manner to protect the best interests of the Deer Trail facility -- and, indeed, the best interest of the citizens of Colorado, who desperately need a safe, compliant and cost-effective disposal option for the growing volume of drinking water residues their towns and cities are generating."

About Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc.

Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc. is North America's leading provider of environmental and hazardous waste management services. With an unmatched infrastructure of 48 waste management facilities, including nine landfills, five incineration locations and seven wastewater treatment centers, the Company provides essential services to more than 45,000 customers. Clean Harbors has more than 100 locations strategically positioned throughout North America in 36 U.S. states, six Canadian provinces, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

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