Conn. AG wins contempt action against property owner

By Bryan Cohen | Jan 28, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty announced Friday that the state won a contempt action against the former owner of a contaminated Bridgeport property.

The Superior Court decision on Thursday ruled that The Sergy Company LLC, and Bruce H. Sergy, the company's managing member, failed to secure a Bridgeport property and allow for remediation efforts to proceed as required by a prior court order. Jepsen and Esty said that the decision will help to protect area residents, the Long Island Sound and the city of Bridgeport, which acquired the Crescent and Seaview Avenues property through foreclosure.

"The property owner agreed to the stipulated judgment approved by the court in 2011," Jepsen said. "The managing member cannot simply walk away from his obligations and allow the groundwater and ultimately Long Island Sound, to be polluted by hazardous waste."

Esty brought the contempt action against The Sergey Company through Jepsen's office. The Bridgeport site is heavily contaminated with multiple toxic substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls, a persistent organic pollutant and known carcinogen.

Since 2001, the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Magnetek Inc. operated a groundwater extraction and treatment system on the property. The purpose of the system was to capture and control groundwater contaminated with PCB from migrating into the Yellow Mill Channel. When electric service was cut off during a dispute between The Sergy Company and Magnetek, the remediation system was disabled and state waters were subsequently polluted.

The state won a stipulated judgment in August 2011 that required The Sergy Company to provide security to the site and allow for reasonable access by Magnetek to continue operating the remediation system.

In June, the Sergy Company lost the property to foreclosure for unpaid taxes and the company was dissolved by Bruce H. Sergy. In October, an inspection showed that security was no longer maintained on the property, which had been vandalized and was further contaminated by an epoxy spill.

The state filed a contempt complaint alleging that loss of the property and dissolution of the company did not discharge the defendants from their obligations under the stipulated judgment. Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati found that the defendants were in contempt of the judgment.

The court ordered Sergy and the now dissolved The Sergy Group to take all needed measures to secure entry points to the building and property, clean up and dispose of the spilled epoxy, restore the groundwater treatment system to working condition, install an audible electronic security system to protect the treatment system, arrange round-the-clock monitoring of the security system and pay all monitoring expenses.

Failure to comply with the ruling could lead to fines of $100 per day.

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