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Man Pleads Guilty To Storing Hazardous Waste At Madison Heights Business

February 16, 2019 - 4:13 pm
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MADISON HEIGHTS (WWJ) - A man has pleaded guilty to illegally storing several types of hazardous waste at an Oakland County business and will pay at least $1.4 million for the cleanup.

Gary Alfred Sayers and his company, Electro-Plating Services Inc., both pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit to illegally storing hazardous wastes at the company's premises, located at 945 E. 10 Mile Road in Madison Heights.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sayers and Electro-Plating Services will pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $1,444,510 for its direct costs to clean up the plating facility, which is surrounded by residential, commercial and industrial properties. The court will decide any term of incarceration and fine at sentencing, scheduled for May 16.

According to the plea agreement, Sayers — who owns and has been the President of Electro-Plating Services from the late 1990s — used various dangerous chemicals in his electroplating business that became hazardous wastes when they no longer fulfilled their industrial purpose. Sayers almost never sent those wastes away for proper disposal, preferring to keep them on site indefinitely.

“Sayers’s knowing, illegal storage of waste cyanide, highly corrosive wastes, toxic chromium waste, and reactive wastes posed a significant danger and threat to nearby communities and the environment," Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement. 

According to the plea agreement, Sayers knew that such storage was illegal because he also managed the company’s former Detroit facility — where he kept hazardous wastes illegally until 2005 — and because the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality repeatedly sent him warnings. In 2005, Sayers was charged with and pleaded guilty to illegally transporting hazardous wastes. During the ensuing years, MDEQ attempted to get Sayers and Electro-Plating Services to properly manage the amounts of hazardous wastes piling up at the Madison Heights location. MDEQ issued numerous Letters of Warning and Violation Notices to the company regarding its hazardous wastes.

In 2016, MDEQ identified over 5,000 containers of liquid and solid wastes at the Madison Heights location. That same year, the City of Madison Heights revoked the company’s occupancy permit. In January 2017, EPA initiated a Superfund removal action, after determining that the nature and threats posed by the stored hazardous waste required a time-critical response.

The cleanup was completed in January 2018.