EPA And Athens County Company Settle Lawsuit

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A lawsuit filed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency against an Athens County business has been settled.

Last year, the Ohio EPA sued Gem Coatings and owner Karry Gemmell in Athens County Common Pleas Court, asserting that the company had violated hazardous waste regulations. Gem Coatings is located in Theisen Industrial Park near The Plains.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this month.

Kate Hanson, a spokeswoman for the environmental enforcement section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, said the settlement calls for Gem Coatings to pay a $30,000 penalty without admitting any wrongdoing. In addition, the company must hire a contractor to draft a cleanup plan that will be submitted to the EPA and become part of a consent order that will be filed in the case.

“We’ve settled and are on good terms with the EPA now,” Gemmell said Wednesday.

The EPA lawsuit asserted that Gem Coatings improperly stored paint waste, which the EPA said is a hazardous waste, in amounts that caused it to lose its status as an exempt small-quantity generator of hazardous waste, thus requiring it to meet additional regulations. The lawsuit also asserted the company illegally dumped waste from sandblasting at the facility. In its response to the lawsuit, the company denied the allegations.

In an unrelated legal action, Athens County Common Pleas Judge L. Alan Goldsberry granted a judgment last month against Gem Coatings and in favor of JP Morgan Chase Bank for $208,418 in principal, $2,381 in past-due interest and $1,560 in late fees and costs. JP Morgan Chase Bank obtained a judgment in the same amounts against Gemmell, who lives in Logan, in Hocking County Common Pleas Court.

An attorney for the bank did not return a message left by The Messenger on Wednesday.

Vicki Hale, Gemmell’s administrative assistant, told The Messenger that the judgments will not impact Gem Coatings. She said the judgments were for a loan taken out as start-up funding for another business in Hocking County.

Gemmell has filed a lawsuit in Hocking County Common Pleas Court against his partner in that business, and on Friday a Hocking County judge granted Gemmell a temporary restraining order related to the business’s finances.

In comments to The Messenger on Wednesday, Gemmell claimed that the loan default that resulted in the Athens County Common Pleas Court judgment (and the Hocking County judgment) was the result of the partner not making payments on the loan.