DES MOINES, Iowa—A federal judge in Des Moines has ordered Titan Tire Corp. and Dico Inc. to pay nearly $3.1 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for tearing down buildings the EPA said were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls and other hazardous pollutants.
Titan President and CEO Maurice "Morry" Taylor Jr. said his company will appeal.
According to Taylor, only about 41/100 ounce of PCBs—roughly a teaspoonful—ever was found at the building site. He also said the EPA and the court ignored evidence of other companies dumping wastes at the site; of homeless persons squatting in the vacant buildings; and of methamphetamine labs operating in the woods nearby.
"The whole thing is a big joke," Taylor said. "There are some judges who just assume that if the government says something, it must be right."
The Justice Department sued Titan and Dico in Des Moines federal district court in October 2010, on behalf of the EPA. The suit claimed Titan and Dico violated Superfund statutes at the Des Moines building site.
According to the 2010 complaint, the EPA ordered Dico in the early 1990s to conduct a remedial investigation of the buildings in question, which were in severe disrepair. Dico's contractor found a number of contaminants in the buildings, including PCBs, the complaint said.
A flood in July 1993 devastated the Des Moines site, according to the complaint. Shortly thereafter, Titan acquired Dico and its parent company, Dyneer Corp. Titan told the EPA at the time that it planned to clean and renovate the buildings.
The EPA ordered Dico to submit a work plan for renovating the buildings in March 1994, the complaint said. Among other things, the agency required Dico to repair and encapsulate contaminated insulation at the site.