Resin Firm Deals With Chapter 11, Criminal Probe
By LAURENCE DARMIENTO
Keysor-Century Corp., a troubled Saugus resin manufacturer, is facing shutdown later this month unless it complies with a federal order that it cease emitting a cancer causing gas the government claims exceeds safe levels.
It’s the latest in a series of problems for the company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after disclosure that it was under criminal investigation for violating federal environmental laws.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims the company has been emitting unhealthful levels of vinyl chloride into the atmosphere for the past 12 months. It faces a May 10 deadline to lower its emissions.
“Our main concern is to get them into compliance as soon as possible so it doesn’t pose a threat to human health and the environment,” said Ivan Lieben, an EPA attorney.
Steven Tekosky, an environmental attorney representing the company, said Keysor-Century does not believe it violated emission standards and is in compliance with the EPA order. “I don’t believe there is a danger of a shut down,” he said.
Keysor’s troubles came to light earlier this year when a team of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency raided the company’s plant.
The agents carried away boxes of materials, and according to an affidavit released by the FBI, the company is under investigation for illegally disposing of hazardous waste, falsifying emission reports and other illegal activities dating back to 1996.
Vinyl chloride, a known carcinogenic gas, is used in the production of the company’s polyvinyl chloride resins.
Attorney Manuel A. Abascal, who represents Keysor in the criminal probe, said the company is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“The company takes it obligation to comply with environmental laws very seriously and is doing every effort to comply,” he said.
Keysor, which has annual revenues of about $50 million and employs nearly 130 people, is the only manufacturer of resin in the western United States.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after its primary lender cited the criminal investigation, as well as the August 2001 death of President Howard Hill, as violations of its $8.3 million credit facility, according to Keysor bankruptcy attorney Brad Godshall.
Congress Financial Corp. threatened to cancel the facility, but Keysor wants to come to terms with the Pasadena lender while in bankruptcy court.