Former PVC maker Keysor-Century Corp. will pay more than $4 million in civil and criminal penalties after pleading guilty to several felony charges surrounding operations at its plant in Saugus, Calif.
The Environmental Protection Agency had been investigating Keysor since 2000. In a June 17 news release, EPA officials said the firm:
* Knowingly released toxic waste water into the Santa Clara River.
* Emitted cancer-causing pollutants at high levels.
* Falsified emission reports to state and federal agencies.
* Illegally stored and handled hazardous waste.
* Maintained its plant in a way that posed a threat of release of hazardous substances.
``The actions of Keysor-Century endangered the health of its neighbors and its employees,'' U.S. Attorney Debra Yang said in the news release.
The firm first began PVC production in Burbank, Calif., in 1953. It moved in 1957 to Saugus, where it made PVC resin until late 2002, when its capacity was estimated at 60 million pounds. For many years, the Saugus complex was a major producer of vinyl records.
The company continued to make PVC compounds in Saugus until late 2003. The firm had closed a similar compounding operation in Newark, Del., in 2000.
In 2002, its last full year of operation, Keysor's sales were around $45 million. The firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2002 after defaulting on an $8 million loan and owing almost $3.7 million to its 20 largest unsecured creditors.
In a December 2002 interview, Keysor President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Keysor discussed the EPA investigation.
``The health and safety of the community is paramount,'' he said. ``But I think there's a question of whether some of these government agencies are working with us or against us.''
Neither Robert Keysor nor Manny Abascal, a Los Angeles lawyer representing the firm's owners, could be reached for comment.