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$740K Fine May Close CT Contractor

Friday, January 10, 2014

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A four-generation coating and abrasive blasting business says it will shut down most of its operations in the face of a $743,500 state fine for hazardous waste, training and other violations.

A Superior Court judge in Hartford, CT, ordered the fine Dec. 24 against family-owned Suraci Inc. (also known as Suraci Corp.), of New Haven, CT, and owner Bruno F. Suraci Jr., according to court documents.

Hazardous waste workers
National Library of Medicine / National Institute of Health

The paint company is accused of failing to mark hazardous waste containers and obtain permits, authorities said.

Connecticut’s Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection had accused the company of improperly managing hazardous waste generated at its River Street site from Sept. 9, 2010, to May 25, 2011, court documents say.

Suraci ran several related businesses at the site, records show. The company has provided a range of spray painting, powder coating and abrasive blasting services to industrial, military, OEM, commercial and residential customers for more than 23 years.

The Allegations

Connecticut authorities accused the company of a number of violations, including:

  • Failing to mark containers and tanks accumulating hazardous waste with the words “hazardous waste” and a description of the contents;
  • Failing to train employees;
  • Failing to obtain permits before storing hazardous waste on site for greater than 90 days; and
  • Failing to maintain a hazardous waste contingency plan.
Daniel C. Esty
Ct.gov

Daniel C. Esty, the state's Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection, filed the complaint against Suraci in January 2013.

Wastes generated at the facility included waste paint; solvent-contaminated materials; solvent still bottoms; spent process baths; rinse waters; burn-off ash; used abrasive blasting media; and oil and spent fluorescent lighting, the complaint said.

OSHA Violations

The company, which also operated Suraci Defense Coating LLC and Suraci Spray & Finishing LLC at the same address, also has a record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA cited both companies after inspections in September 2010.

In that case, Suraci Defense Coating was initially fined $2,700 for nine serious citations, including violations of respiratory protection, general requirements, and an emergency action plan. The case was later settled at five serious violations and $1,575 in fines, according to OSHA's records.

The same day, Suraci Spray & Finishing was cited for 11 serious violations and fined $4,050. The violations were similar to those faced by the Defense Coating arm of the company. That case was settled at seven violations and $2,025 in fines, according to OSHA.

Attempted follow-up inspections by OSHA on May 14, 2013, were not completed, with OSHA noting that both companies were out of business.

Company Response

The company did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment. However, a spokesman told The Hartford Courant that Suraci Inc. did not produce the levels of pollutants needed to require the permits and did not plan to pay the fine.

Suraci commercial painting Suraci spray painting
Suraci Corp.

Suraci and its spinoff businesses provided a wide range of spray and powder coating and abrasive blasting services for commercial, residential, military, OEM and industrial customers.

Suraci said the business, which once employed about 137 people, ran out of funds fighting the state’s charges and has had to shutter most of its operations.

He also told the news outlet that he planned to file for bankruptcy.

About the Company

The family-owned business reports on its website that industrial and production coating services have been a part of the Suraci tradition for four generations—beginning with a great-grandfather who painted horse-drawn carriages and, later, automobiles.

The company said its New Haven facility had more than 120,000 square feet available to handle a variety of projects, including automated lines for both powder coating and wet spray.

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Environmental Protection; hazardous materials; Hazardous waste; Industrial powder coating; OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers); Painting Contractor; Powder coatings; Shop-applied coatings; Worker training

Comment from Mike Moran, (1/10/2014, 8:09 AM)

The Govt at work. destroying business as usual


Comment from peter gibson, (1/10/2014, 12:05 PM)

100 years of entrenched business culture. Difficult to operate in an over regulated/modern environment.


Comment from Fred Salome, (1/11/2014, 8:12 PM)

Th coatings industry poses many well known health hazards, and the community expects all participants to manage their business safely. The authorities must be allowed to enforce regulations where voluntary compliance appears to be being ignored. People's health must come before business interests.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/13/2014, 11:44 AM)

Peter, although I do agree that it is hard to change an entrenched culture overnight, it's not like the regulations involved are new. Mike, at what point does an unlicenced hazardous waste facility become a problem? Would you rather another incident such as West, Texas? I'm not saying that the same would happen here, but this is how places like West start. I'm sorry, but in this case, I don't have much sympathy....I've dealt with the results of such sites too often in my career.


Comment from Jesse Wilkinson, (1/14/2014, 2:55 PM)

M. Halliwell, The regulations involved may or not be new but it's likely they would take a small army to comply with. I can't remember the last time I heard of a company-large or small that came away from an EPA, OSHA, or other regulating body review without some kind of a violation. Is this because all companies are incompetent/criminal by nature? I hardly think so. The "regulations" are all-consuming and impossible to keep up with. If you have a small army (i.e. tax-payer funded government agency) it's an easy thing to pick a target and demonize them. MAKE THE REGULATIONS/RECORDKEEPING WAAAY LESS COMPLEX AND MANAGEABLE and compliance will go up. Sign me as tired of big brother.


Comment from Keith Holdsworth, (1/14/2014, 4:50 PM)

Always cheaper to just get it from another country that doesn't abide by the same regulations we have in this country. And everyone's wondering where the jobs went. It would be a different story if this country held other countries to our standards, until we do those countries will keep taking our jobs.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/15/2014, 11:15 AM)

Jesse, I understand and appreciate your point, but I hope you also appreciate mine. Yes, the inspectors are looking for problems, but it is the problems (and resulting citations and fines) that make the news, just like the worker deaths. I know that not all site visits by regulators end in citations and fines...but those visits are not front page headlines and we rarely, if ever, hear about them. Paperwork and inspections aside (and yes, bureaucracy and paperwork is a #*$@!^ to deal with), hazardous waste has to be dealt with properly. If you're generating a toxic or hazardous waste, you store it properly (including proper labels), minimize how much of it you have on site and get rid of it in a timely manner (sooner rather than later). These are the cornerstones of the hazardous waste regs in most western countries. If you don't, you often end up with an extremely nasty clean up after (that make the imposed fine seem like pocket change and often leave the taxpayer on the hook for it), or worse, an accident that causes catastrophic damage and loss of life (like West, TX). I will freely admit to being jaded by my experience on this one....but I've dealt with too many clean ups not to be.


Comment from Billy Russell, (1/16/2014, 5:26 AM)

Got Caught, Knew the rules did not want to comply, does not want to pay fine, will repaint equipment open new LLC in Mothers nephews name, write a check for another certification and be right back doing the same thing in another state it happens a lot in this industry.


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