Agencies say businesses that break environmental laws can expect a visit ; Files are reviewed and samples taken at MacDonald's Industrial Products. An environmental task force plans to make itself more visible.:[All Editions]
Barton Deiters / The Grand Rapids PressThe Grand Rapids PressGrand Rapids, Mich.: Aug 6, 2003.  pg. D.2
Full Text (341   words)

Copyright Grand Rapids Press Aug 6, 2003

Workers at a Northeast Side factory may have been surprised by the state and federal agents who suddenly appeared with a search warrant.

But authorities who are investigating MacDonald's Industrial Products said multi-agency probes are likely to become more common in West Michigan.

Mark Courtade, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, said a newly formed environmental task force will be taking a more visible approach to ensuring that laws are followed.

"They're not going to sit back and then clean up the mess," he said.

"They're going to be a lot more proactive."

Based on a tip, the FBI, state Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Attorney General's Office were at a MacDonald's plant Tuesday on Oak Industrial Drive NE in Grand Rapids.

EPA criminal agent Michael J. Marks would not disclose details of the allegations, though files were inspected and samples of an unspecified nature were taken. MacDonald's attorney, Mark Pendery, said today that the company had no comment.

"Anyone can file a compliant," Marks said. "This is just an investigation and the company has been extremely cooperative."

In 2000, company facilities in Kentwood and on Oak Industrial Drive were cited by the DEQ for unauthorized release of wastewater to the storm sewer, which then flowed to Plaster Creek, according to state records.

The company paid $100,000 in fines and about $6,000 in administrative costs. It also had to develop a plan to keep the wastewater out of storm sewers.

Courtade said the task force allows for more enforcement by EPA agents who have been somewhat scarce in West Michigan because their offices are in Detroit and Chicago.

"I think you're going to see a lot more of this type of presence," he said.

Marks said the main goal is compliance with environmental laws. He said each agency brings its own expertise.

"If we're able to identify those who knowingly and intentionally violate environmental standards, we have a more level playing field for those who do follow the rules," he said.

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People:   Marks, Michael
Companies:   MacDonalds Industrial Products
Section:   City & Region
Text Word Count   341