Connecticut Attorney General's Office
Press Release



Attorney General, DEP Obtain Emergency Order Blocking Illegal And Dangerous Disturbance Of Toxic Waste

May 21, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today won an emergency court order against a Stratford man who illegally excavated toxic waste -- in direct defiance of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- threatening to expose homes and businesses to harmful contaminants.

Blumenthal sought the order on behalf of the DEP against Joseph Marcell whose mother owns the property.

The Stratford property, at 340 East Main St., is part of the Raymark Industries Superfund Site and contains 70 years worth of toxic pollution from automotive parts manufacturing. Marcell illegally excavated contaminated waste from the site, and continued to do so even after DEP officials ordered him to stop.

DEP is working with staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to secure the material with an emergency cover to prevent contaminants from spreading to nearby businesses and a residential neighborhood about 150 yards away.

"Our emergency order should immediately block further dangerous disruption of this poisonous superfund site," Blumenthal said. "This property owner dug up toxic trouble -- for neighbors and himself -- when he excavated highly contaminated soil. This illegal excavation has disturbed 70 years worth of toxic waste from automotive parts production that may contain PCBs, asbestos and lead.

"This illegal action could mean severe penalties, including possible criminal charges, if he continues to directly defy state officials by exposing and endangering citizens to pernicious pollutants. My office will fight to block this public health and environmental danger, and secure the site."

Deputy Commissioner Amey Marrella said, "Federal, state and local officials have been working closely with property owners and the Stratford community for an orderly, effective and safe resolution of issues surrounding the presence of contaminated soils containing Raymark waste. It is simply unacceptable -- and it is a violation of the law -- for someone to take matters into their own hands to remove contaminated soils. We have taken steps to secure the property at 340 East Main St. and equipment used there. In addition this court order will allow federal and state emergency responders to further reduce risk on the property which will protect the public and neighboring property owners. With the continuing efforts and cooperation of all parties to the Raymark situation the right steps will be taken to cleanup affected properties."

Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator of the EPA's New England regional office, "Our first concern is always to protect the health of the surrounding community. Working together, EPA and DEP are taking necessary steps to contain any contaminated material and secure the site."

Blumenthal sued Raymark more than a decade ago to recover nearly $20 million in costs associated with the site's cleanup. The lawsuit remains pending in federal court. Raymark operated a 33-acre site from 1919 to 1989, producing automotive parts, including disk brakes, drum brakes, brake pads, brake linings and adhesives. Raymark allegedly dumped hazardous wastes resulting from their manufacturing processes, including asbestos, pheno-formaldehyde resins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in man-made "lagoons" behind the facility.

The company then allowed for the resulting sludge with hazardous waste components to be available to the general public for use as fill material free of cost.