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Ohio AG, Marietta Industrial Enterprises settle lawsuit

MARIETTA — By negotiation, Marietta Industrial Enterprises, Inc. secured an extension for state-required roadwork along the Ohio River Wednesday before a scheduled contempt hearing in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

MIE is an operating company located on Ohio 7 south of Marietta in Warren Township which oversees transportation and materials handling including business park administration, barge and truck transport and processing lines.

“We were supposed to have completed some roadway improvements by the end of 2018; we had three years to do it,” explained MIE President Scott Elliott. “But we simply didn’t have the money to do all of the improvements they asked us to do to our roadways. So we asked for an extension before the time was up in 2018, and they denied it. So we said fine, let’s go to court, and we’ll get our extension in court.”

The company was instructed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency through a partial consent order in 2015 to complete the improvements or face a penalty of $250,000, plus a contempt fine of $250.

Elliott explained that the Ohio EPA got involved with the roadway order after a claim was made that truck traffic along Blue Knob Road was causing dust pollution.

“And because we have an air permit with the EPA, even though we’re not the only trucking company here, they wanted us to pay for road improvements to settle their claim for air quality violations,” said Elliott. “We’ve spent about $496,000 so far on roadway improvements but that wasn’t enough to complete what the air division wanted because about $100,000 of that went to additional requirements by the township and county to add swales and other work to the road. We didn’t have the money in time to finish the rest.”

Now, with an extension to complete the drag-out violation those fines still stand if the roadway improvements throughout the Warren Township site are not completed by June 1, 2020.

“But we have to pay $12,000 because we didn’t get finished (by the end of 2018,)” said Elliott.

The assistant attorneys representing the environmental enforcement section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Wednesday, Karia Ruffin and Cameron Simmons, declined to comment on the case. As the negotiation was completed without the scheduled contempt hearing ever occurring neither made a public statement on the record before Judge Randall Burnworth.

But the agreed order stipulates:

* MIE is in contempt of court for its failure to comply with parts of the July 22, 2015 consent order.

* MIE has 15 days to begin blocking vehicular access to certain portions of the Ohio 7 site, including the installation of concrete bibs and barriers connected by chain link.

“Defendant shall notify Ohio EPA prior to moving any barrier,” the order repeatedly states.

According to the order, all barriers must be in place within 30 days and remain in place until paving, concrete or other chipseal materials are in place for both interior site-roadways by the final 2020 deadline.

The order also notes that before the installation of truck scales, provision is made for access to each end of County Road 3 (which along the Ohio River is designated locally as Blue Knob Road).

“If Marietta Industrial Enterprises, Inc. purges itself of contempt,” reads the order. “The stipulated penalty assessed… shall be reduced to $12,000.”

That fine of $12,000 would be paid in monthly increments through Oct. 1, 2020.

This case is not the first for MIE regarding environmental violations.

A federal criminal case was resolved in 2013 involving air emissions violations. Elliott ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory on a felony count of failing to report violations of its permit. He was sentenced to 48 hours in jail and nearly six months of house arrest and MIE was ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution. The company could have faced billions of dollars in fines for the violations, some of which had gone on for years, including the failure to conduct emission testing on certain pieces of equipment.

Elliott said Wednesday that the most recent case was solely based on roadway improvement orders, not explicitly tied to the emissions cases which began nearly 25 years ago.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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