January 25, 2013
Former Property Owner Found in Contempt for Failing to Comply With Court Order for Bridgeport Site
The state has won a contempt action against the former owner of a contaminated Bridgeport property for failing both to secure the property and to allow remediation efforts to continue as required by an earlier court order.
Attorney General George Jepsen and Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty said the Superior Court decision Thursday will help to protect area residents, Long Island Sound and the City of Bridgeport, which acquired the Crescent and Seaview Avenues property through foreclosure.
“The property owner agreed to the stipulated judgment approved by the court in 2011. The managing member cannot simply walk away from his obligations and allow the groundwater and ultimately Long Island Sound, to be polluted by hazardous waste,” Attorney General Jepsen said.
DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, the “court’s decision sends a clear message that individuals and companies who violate the state's environmental laws will be held fully accountable."
"The state will always vigorously enforce environmental protection agreements, particularly as they apply to former industrial sites in the state's largest and poorest cities, which often need our support to make certain they are enforced. I want to thank the Attorney General's office for aggressively pursuing this matter in the courts," Commissioner Esty said.
Esty, through the Office of the Attorney General, brought the contempt action against The Sergy Company, LLC, and its managing member, Bruce H. Sergy of Long Beach, Calif. The site is heavily contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a known carcinogen and persistent organic pollutant, and other toxic substances.
Since 2001, Magnetek, Inc., of Menomonee Falls, Wisc., the successor to a former tenant at the now abandoned former industrial facility, has operated a groundwater extraction and treatment system. The purpose of the system is to capture and control PCB-contaminated groundwater from migrating into Yellow Mill Channel, which is part of Bridgeport Harbor, and then into Long Island Sound. When electric service was later cut off to the property in a dispute between The Sergy Company, LLC, and Magnetek , the remediation system was disabled, causing pollution of state waters. The state went to court to restore its operation.
The resulting stipulated judgment, approved by the court in August 2011, required The Sergy Company, LLC, to provide security to the site and to allow reasonable access to Magnetek to continue operation of the remediation system. According to the state’s contempt complaint, The Sergy Company, LLC, lost the property to foreclosure for unpaid taxes in June, 2012 and the company was subsequently dissolved by Bruce H. Sergy. An inspection in October showed security was no longer being maintained on the property, which had been vandalized and further contaminated by a spill of epoxy.
Loss of the property and dissolution of the company did not discharge The Sergy Company, LLC, and Bruce H. Sergy from their obligations under the stipulated judgment, Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati in Waterbury ruled Thursday, finding them in contempt of the stipulated judgment.
“The stipulated judgment entered by the court … is clear and unambiguous,” the judge wrote, and “does not reference or contemplate that the defendant The Sergy Company, LLC would be discharged of its obligation under the permanent injunction to continue to provide security to the property if it no longer owned the property.”
The decision noted that neither the company nor Sergy, as managing member, sought to modify the judgment because of any change in circumstances. Nor did they present any evidence at a hearing earlier this month regarding why or how they could not comply with this the court’s order.
The court ordered the former company and Sergy to take all necessary measures to secure all points of entry at the building and property; to clean up and dispose of the spilled epoxy; to restore the groundwater treatment system to operating condition; to install an audible, electronic security system to protect the treatment system; to arrange for round-the-clock monitoring of that security system and to pay all the monitoring expenses. Failure to comply could result in fines of $100 per day.
Assistant Attorneys General John Looney and Kimberly Massicotte, Environment department head, are handling this matter for the Attorney General.