State panel on hazardous materials to go after 30 firms

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

A state panel is prepared to go after companies that refuse to document their hazardous materials and pay a state-imposed fee.

The Missouri Emergency Response Commission held its quarterly meeting in Cape Girardeau Tuesday. Several local law enforcement officials attended. Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones is a member of the commission.

One of the topics discussed was some companies' refusal to turn in "Tier 2" files, which tell the state and local hazardous materials responders what chemicals are stored on their sites. These companies include gas stations, propane dealers and large companies that store or use hazardous materials.

So far, 7,197 companies have turned in their forms and fees. Thirty have refused, despite several attempts by the commission to reach them.

The fees are $50 for gas stations and $100 for all other companies.

Bob Dopp, executive director of the commission, said he has had talks with the attorney general's office and the commission is set to legally pursue the money. The fees are established in statutes, Dopp said.

Jones said the forms are important.

"That way if we have a spill, a fire or tornado, then our emergency responders will know what they're dealing with," he said. "That way they don't walk into something."

Dopp said 65 percent of the fees go back to local jurisdictions for training or materials; 25 percent goes toward administrative costs to run the commission; and 10 percent goes to the state fire marshal's office for training.

Dopp said the owner of one of the properties refuses to pay the fees because he is not from the United States and claims he shouldn't have to pay U.S. taxes; another is a propane dealer who wants a gasoline station rate; and another simply doesn't want to cooperate with the state government.

Dopp said none of the 30 companies who have refused to participate is from Southeast Missouri.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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