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NIAGARA FALLS: Highland Ave. business pleads guilty to felony
[February 05, 2010]

NIAGARA FALLS: Highland Ave. business pleads guilty to felony

Feb 05, 2010 (Niagara Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A Niagara Falls company has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Buffalo to a felony charge of storing hazardous waste without a permit.

The plea came Wednesday from the Tulip Corporation, a plastics recycling company in the 3100 block of Highland Avenue. The company faces a maximum penalty of a fine of up to $50,000 for every day it violated the law. The company will be sentenced at a yet to be determined date by new Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Skretny.

Tulip is a California corporation that reprocesses and recycles shredded battery casings, commonly referred to as "chips," into a usable material. The company purchases the chips from various suppliers, and then re-processes the chips by washing, drying, and extruding them.

Some of the chips processed and recycled by Tulip are contaminated with lead, making them hazardous materials.

The chips are delivered to Tulip by tractor-trailer truckloads, with each load containing approximately 40,000 pounds of chips. Federal prosecutors claimed that from Oct. 14, 2004, to July 11, 2007, chips contaminated with lead were occasionally stored outside the Highland Avenue plant. The outside storage of the chips reportedly occurred during breakdowns in the chip reprocessing equipment and when surplus chips arrived at the plant.

Prosecutors said the storage of chips outside the plant increased in frequency in January 2007. On July 11, 2007, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducted an inspection at Tulip and observed approximately 80,000 pounds of chips being stored outside.

Samples of the chips were taken by the DEC and analyzed for lead content. All of the samples were above the legal limit for lead content.

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