Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 19, 2010

NIAGARA FALLS: Tulip Corp. plant manager gets probation

The manager of a Niagara Falls plastics recycling plant will spend two years on probation and pay a $3,000 fine for his guilty plea to violating federal environmental protection laws.

City resident John Signore, 51, was also ordered to perform 40 hours of community service by Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Skretny. He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of storing hazardous waste without a permit.

Signore is the plant manger of the Tulip Corp., a plastics recycling company in the 3100 block of Highland Ave.

One of the product lines at Tulip involves the processing and recycling of shredded battery casings, commonly referred to as “chips,” into a

usable material. Tulip purchases the chips from various suppliers, and then re-processes the chips by washing, drying, and extruding the chips.

Some of the chips processed and recycled by Tulip are contaminated with lead, classifying them as hazardous materials. The chips are delivered to Tulip by tractor-trailer, with each load containing approximately 40,000 pounds of chips.

Federal prosecutors said from Oct. 14, 2004, to July 11, 2007, chips contaminated with lead were occasionally stored outside the Highland Avenue plant. The outside storage occurred because of breakdowns in the chip re-processing equipment and a surplus of chips coming into the plant.

Prosecutors said Signore ordered that the chips be stored outside.

“Mr. Signore deliberately concealed the fact that he illegally stored hazardous waste containing toxic metals,” said William Lometti, special agent-in-charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's New York Area Office of Criminal Enforcement. "(His) sentence demonstrates our commitment to vigorously prosecute those who intentionally violate environmental laws and put the public at potential risk."

Storage of chips outside reportedly increased in frequency beginning in January 2007, on July 11, 2007 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation conducted an inspection at Tulip and observed approximately 80,000 pounds of chips being stored outside.

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