Federal Government, State of Missouri Seek to Hold St. Joseph, Missouri, Pesticide Manufacturer, St. Joseph Properties, LLC and its owner, William Garvey in Contempt and Appoint Receiver
Lenexa, KS (STL.News) On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state of Missouri, Missouri Attorney General, and Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed a motion in federal district court to hold HPI Products Inc., its owner William Garvey, and St. Joseph Properties LLC in contempt for their ongoing failure to comply with a 2011 settlement between the parties over alleged violations of state and federal environmental laws.
The defendants operate six pesticide manufacturing, storage, and distribution facilities in St. Joseph, Missouri. The motion also seeks to freeze the defendants’ assets and to appoint a receiver to determine if the defendants have the financial ability to clean up hazardous wastes stored at their facilities.
“For years, HPI Products Inc. has failed to comply with its legal requirements to safely store and dispose of hazardous waste,” said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. “Members of the community have expressed concerns in the past, and this motion is aimed in part at addressing those concerns. Although HPI has partially complied with cleanup requirements, the effort has fallen far short of what is needed and required, and we are hopeful the court will grant the governments’ request to finally get the job finished.”
According to the governments’ court filing, since at least 2007, the defendants have stored thousands of containers of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes at their facilities. EPA and state inspectors repeatedly found rusted and/or leaking containers and observed that the facilities themselves were dilapidated, with some buildings partially collapsed or in danger of collapse.
In 2011, the defendants, along with the federal and state agencies, entered into a Consent Decree to resolve the defendants’ years-long noncompliance. The Consent Decree required the defendants to, among other things, inventory and characterize all the wastes in their facilities and to properly clean up and dispose of the waste.
Citing the defendants’ noncompliance with the Consent Decree in 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri initially granted the governments’ request to hold the defendants in contempt and appoint a receiver. Shortly thereafter, the defendants established an escrow account and took other initial steps toward compliance, causing the governments to request that the court put the receivership order on hold and allow the defendants to continue with cleanup efforts.
The governments’ current request for the appointment of a receiver notes that, although the company has made some attempts to comply with the Consent Decree since 2018, its efforts are significantly behind schedule and potential threats to human health remain. As a result, the governments are seeking reinstatement of the court’s 2018 order to hold the defendants in contempt and to appoint a receiver to determine if the defendants have the assets required to complete the cleanup and prevent the generation of additional waste until compliance is achieved.