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Copyright © 2010 The Morning Call

ID: 4507495
Publication Date: January 9, 2010
Day: Saturday
Page: A6
Edition: FIRST
Section: News
Type: Local
Dateline:
Column:
Length: medium

Byline: By Christopher Baxter OF THE MORNING CALL

Headline: DEP fines steel coating plant $58,297 ** Upper Nazareth


company has repeatedly violated environmental regulations.

An Upper Nazareth Township steel coating plant with a history of


bucking environmental rules has been fined $58,297 for air quality
violations, and state officials say their investigation is continuing.

The penalty comes three months after a Morning Call investigation found
that Steel Management Systems and its predecessor, Encor Coatings, have
operated the plant since 2001 despite repeated violations of state air and
waste regulations.

The investigation also traced eight years of stop-and-go enforcement,


including a previous penalty, by the state Department of Environmental
Protection that allowed the plant to operate for more than three years
without a valid permit.

The penalty marks a reversal by the DEP, which originally indicated it


would not hold SMS accountable for Encor's past violations. The agency
declined to comment for the original story because of an ongoing
investigation, but defended its actions Friday.

"Solving the problem, correcting the violation or sometimes getting the


company's attention is usually our first step," said Mark Carmon, regional
spokesman for the DEP. "There are delays due to changing priorities,
staffing and other cases that need more immediate attention."

The penalty holds SMS accountable for air quality violations dating to
2001, including operating without a permit, exceeding pollution limits and
failing to pay emissions fees and the $12,883 balance of a 2002 DEP
penalty. Some of the violations occurred prior to SMS, under Encor.

Company executives did not return a call seeking comment Friday.

Encor Coatings and its parent company, Corban Corp., were created in
1989 and began operating the plant at 3045 Bath Pike the same year,
according to state corporation and Northampton County property records.

A 2001 county court order lists Edward G. Gleason as CEO of Corban,


Edward W. Gleason as president and William R. Condosta as vice
president.

SMS began operating the plant in 2005, according to DEP documents, and
online corporation records list Condosta, 40, of Bethlehem, as president.
The property was purchased in 2006 by New York-based S Park
Holdings, county records state.

The DEP in a September memo said it would not pursue the outstanding
fees and violations related to Encor. Environmental advocates criticized
the decision, saying it would allow companies to escape enforcement by
reforming as different companies or changing their names.

But the agency reversed course in Friday's penalty assessment. Carmon


said the September memo was "not cast in stone and was for purposes of
discussion internally." SMS has 30 days to appeal the penalty.

The DEP has yet to address several outstanding air and waste violations,
including the most recent problems noted in a Dec. 22 letter to the
company. The agency said SMS in 2008 failed to meet recordkeeping
requirements and submit compliance certifications.

In light of the violations, detailed in The Morning Call's investigation


published in October, Upper Nazareth officials criticized the DEP for
keeping them in the dark about the problems at SMS.

The agency as a result agreed to inform the township of any future


violations, and has since been in regular contact, Supervisor Chairman
Joseph Emrick said.

"I think the DEP is very conscious of the issues and the concerns at SMS,"
Emrick said. "The company's being held accountable for their violations
and their air quality issues, and I think that's excellent."

But residents living near the plant said Friday that they were not satisfied
with the DEP's fine.

"More needs to be done," said Elizabeth Miller, who lives with her
husband and three horses within a few hundred feet of the plant. "This
isn't going to stop until they're closed down and moved out."

Dorothy Nordmeyer, who also lives near the plant, said she was not
satisfied with the speed of enforcement by the DEP, but understands the
agency's staffing and budget limitations.

"What I would like happen is for the company to go away," Nordmeyer


said.

christopher.baxter@mcall.com

610-778-2283