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Owners Of Recycling Facility Plead Guilty To Felony Charges

The owners of a Corning recycling materials facility that was destroyed in a spectacular fire have pleaded guilty to felony charges for illegally possessing and storing hazardous materials and refusing to clean up the mess. That’s according to the Corning Observer. In July of 2018 the fire at specialized fibers burned for two days and closed South Avenue for more than a week. Five months later, with rainy season beginning, the Tehama County Department of Environmental Health raised alarms that the massive piles of hazardous materials that remained would be a threat to nearby waterways, but the company was seemingly unconcerned about cleanup. When officials inspected the property after the fire, they apparently found evidence of a lot of hazardous materials not covered by the company’s use permit, including storage tanks with petroleum and solvents. Some materials remained unidentified and were still being tested nine months later when the site was declared a public nuisance. The cost of the cleanup is still estimated at close to $3 Million, but the company is broke and the I.R.S. has a lien on the property. Last October one of the owners, Bob O’Connor, was arrested, booked and released on the hazardous materials charges, but O’Connor died in March. Now his wife Karen, the company’s only remaining executive officer, has made a plea agreement with the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office. Sentencing is set for July.