Pressure from residential neighbors prompted Industrial Fiberglass Services Inc. of Battle Ground, Wash., to move to a new, undisclosed location, even though the company held all necessary state permits at its current site. State and local officials said the plant did not meet, but easily could have come into compliance with, zoning and air quality standards. But neighbors said their chief objection was the employment of a salesman who faces sentencing for activities at his former firm.
James P. Kennedy, IFS project managerand spokesman, said the company chose not to fight community sentiment against the manufacturing facility.
``This company has done nothing. Due to unrelated problems, our company is being hammered,'' he said.
According to Kennedy, the company's problems with the community began after Industrial Fiberglass held a neighborhood open house.
``We invited them up. That may have made it worse,'' he said.
One of the neighbors' chief objections was the company's employment of Joel Atwood at the IFS plant. Atwood, whom Ken-nedy described as ``one hell of a salesman,'' is scheduled for sentencing March 17 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Wash., on one count of storing acetone and other hazardous wastes without a permit at the site of Atwood Plastics Construction Inc., which operated between 1988 and August 1993 in Vancouver, Wash. Kennedy said Atwood was president of Atwood Plastics, but no longer is connected with that firm.
Industrial Fiberglass, located in a rural area 20 miles north of Vancouver, makes corrosion-resistant containers for the paper and pulp industry in the Northwest.
Lisa Rozmyn, hazardous waste inspector for the Washington Department of Ecology, said no ill health effects had been reported at or around the plant, and the operation was in compliance with the department's regulations.
IFS did pay a $500 fine for failing to secure the proper air quality permits from the state, Kennedy said. Tim Gould, air quality engineer with the Southwest Washington Air Pollution Control Authority, said a few minor modifications would have been necessary to bring the IFS building into air quality compliance.
However, ``The point is moot,'' Gould said March 3. ``They're moving anyway.''
Kennedy said IFS was moving March 8, but he would not say where.
Kennedy did note that all zoning and land-use permits for the company's new site already had been secured.
Even though the company chose to move, Clark County, Wash., zoning officer Scott Melville said the firm could have filed for and earned a home business occupation permit and remained at the site in compliance with zoning ordinances.
Joel Atwood faces up to five years in prison and may be subject to paying restitution for storing drums of acetone and other acetone-related wastes on the Vancouver property, in addition to as much as $50,000 per day on the storage conviction, said Helen Brunner, assistant U.S. attorney.
Brunner, who said she handles most environment-related federal litigation for the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle, also noted that the aim of this prosecution, among others, was to eliminate the unfair competitive advantage provided those who avoid the sometimes-expensive costs of complying with federal environmental regulations.