Gitto Global Corp., a specialty compounder in Lunenburg, Mass., has agreed to pay a $225,000 state fine for using excessive amounts of lead in its compound production.
The company reached the settlement with the state's Department of Environmental Protection and the attorney general's office.
Under terms of the deal, Gitto must meet annual lead-reduction goals set by the state for the next five years or pay additional fines of up to $50,000. The company also has agreed to pay $25,000 to fund an independent study of ways to reduce the lead content of flame-resistant plastic used in electrical wiring.
The Massachusetts DEP launched the investigation in 2000 after receiving an anonymous tip. DEP spokesman Ed Coletta said that during summer months, Gitto was disconnecting a filter on its PVC compounding lines, resulting in lead particulate being sent outside the facility. Coletta said the filter was disconnected to prevent hot air from recirculating into the building.
In a Jan. 15 news release, DEP officials also claim that Gitto collected much of the lead-containing PVC dust and shipped it out of state to be used by other plastic manufacturers. But, according to the DEP, Gitto did not label the shipments as hazardous waste, as required by Massachusetts law.
Gitto had countersued the DEP, claiming its rights were violated by the investigation, but in a recent news release, the firm said it decided it would be less expensive to settle the matter and pay the fine, rather than incurring further legal costs.
``Gitto Global's litigation ... was heavily contested and the settlement was reached after several attempts by the attorney general's office to impose large fines, all of which Gitto Global successfully defended,'' the release said.
Chief Executive Officer Gary Gitto said his firm ``invested and will continue to invest ... in environmental compliance, and we are happy to put this matter behind us.''
In an October 2000 letter published in Plastics News, Gitto defended his firm's decision to refuse an additional DEP inspection of its site. According to Gitto, the DEP requested the inspection before releasing details of a complaint it had filed against the firm.
``We were not going to allow a group of regulators with preconceived conclusions [to] roam our plant to find some trivial or technical violation,'' Gitto wrote at the time.
In a separate matter, the Fitchburg (Mass.) Sentinel & Enterprise reported Jan. 16 that Gitto and his father, Charles Gitto, pleaded innocent Jan. 15 to charges of assaulting two police officers. The alleged incident occurred in December when the officers responded to a domestic incident at Gary Gitto's home in Leominster, Mass. The case was continued until April 5.
Neither Gary Gitto nor his lawyer, Steve Panagiotes, could be reached for comment on the case. Panagiotes earlier had told Plastics News that the episode was ``a nothing incident'' and that police ``overreacted'' when responding to the call.
Gitto Global makes proprietary compounds based on PVC, polyethylene, polypropylene, thermoplastic olefins and other specialty resins. The firm employs 90 and expects to post sales of between $90 million and $100 million this year.