A radioactive waste processing company that the state legislature is moving to shutter has received three violations for not following safety protocols over the past 10 years, state environmental officials revealed.
In all, Kent Avenue-based Radiac Environmental Services has been fined $25,000 for three violations.
The problems primarily concerned Radiac’s manner of storing and labeling hazardous waste at its windowless, bunker-like facility across from the Domino Sugar redevelopment site. The company has resolved its issues, state records show.
“Our regulations are designed that hazardous materials are properly labeled, stored and managed,” said Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Maureen Wren. “Due to inspections or monitoring of information and complaints that the state has received, there were violations that needed to be addressed.”
Radiac Environmental Services has been a recent target of legislation passed in Albany designed to compel the company to move from its Williamsburg facility where it has decontaminated and stored medical and radioactive waste for 42 years.
The bill, which passed both houses but has not yet been signed by Gov. Paterson, would prohibit the disposal of radioactive waste on a site within 1,500 feet of a school, limiting the industrial uses that Radiac could perform on its property.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Williamsburg), who authored the bill, pointed to the company’s violations as evidence that it is dangerous for nearby residents, including students and faculty at a middle school 1,200 feet away, and should be relocated from Williamsburg to another neighborhood.
But an attorney for Radiac argued that Lentol’s legislation is the product of political posturing before an upcoming election and that the company has had advanced new safety standards after the state’s oversight.
“Radiac has been viewed under a microscope by regulatory agencies, by complaints from residents and neighbors and not by any issues of substance,” said Radiac’s attorney Thomas West. “It’s politically expedient for Lentol [to make this argument], even though they perform a very valuable service for the entire metropolitan area.”
West defended the company, arguing that it has safely decontaminated chemicals for decades with no negative environmental effect on the surrounding community and that Lentol’s bill smacks of eminent domain.
A spokeswoman for Lentol disagrees, claiming that the bill would only limit one use that Radiac would have on its property, though it is the current and primary purpose of the company.
“Imagine if there was a fire there,” said Lentol spokeswoman Amy Cleary. “They have radioactive and hazardous chemicals. It would be one of the worst disasters in the history of Brooklyn.”
Lentol has urged the company to consider selling the property or moving though the company has so far been unwilling to consider that option.
“No one has approached Radiac to make a move and we won’t move until we make sure we have another place to do business with adequate facilities and licensing,” said West.
As the only radioactive waste processing facility in the city, Radiac contracts with hospitals, schools and the city of New York to handle a the disposal of a variety of chemical and biological waste. This can include mercury spills in high school science classrooms to unidentified toxic compounds.