CHICKASHA, Okla. (KFOR) – A company previously accused of illegally disposing hand sanitizer at multiple locations in Grady County is being fined more than $6 million dollars, according to an Administrative Compliance Order filed Tuesday by Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality Land Protection Division.
“That administrative order first assesses a pretty sizable administrative penalty. It’s just over $6.6 million. More importantly, it requires that any remaining hand sanitizer be properly disposed of and that any contamination that’s occurred at any of the three sites that it’d be remediated appropriately,” said Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Chief of Staff Robert Singletary.
Singletary also told KFOR the fine might be the largest levied by the agency that he’s aware of.
“I believe it is the largest that we’ve assessed,” said Singletary. “”I don’t have any personal knowledge of a fine that’s been assessed larger than $6.6 million.”
According to the order, the full amount is expected to be paid in full within sixty days.
Last week, Bordwine’s attorney, Peter Scimeca, provided KFOR with the following statement:
“Mr. Bordwine and his company are addressing various concerns raised in the OKDEQ administrative Order and abiding by its orders. He continues, even after authorities executed a search warrant for over five hours at this business, to work with federal, state and local authorities to solve the problem of how to safely and lawfully dispose of the remaining hand sanitizer being stored in and around Chickasha. He plans to file an answer and request a hearing in the OKDEQ administrative proceeding modifying the terms of the Emergency Order that addresses a major oversite by all branches of Government involved. Recycling hand sanitizer, which is what Mr. Bordwine and his company were doing at each site, does not require hazardous waste permits and protocols for transportation, storage and recycling. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the attached EPA letter dated June 24, 2021 from Kim Kirkland, Chief, Waste Characterization Branch, that addresses permits and protocols needed for the recycling or disposal of hand sanitizer. The June 24, 2021 letter states ‘In summary, when recycled, hand sanitizer is exempt from hazardous waste regulations and does not have to ship on a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest’. The fire that burned in Chickasha on August 7, 2022 was a tragic accident for the town, Mr. Bordwine and his Company. Nobody lost more than he did in the fire. He is working day and night to solve problems. He asks for the Government agencies to come together and help his company move forward and solve this problem.”
The news comes after the revelation that the company did not have a permit to operate as a hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility, while potentially functioning in a manner that was harmful to both people and the environment.
“The agency has made the determination that hazardous waste was present at the site(s) and has been released into the environment at each of the sites,” he continued, adding that the primary reason it was considered to be a hazardous material was due to “ignitability”.
“And even if it wasn’t hand sanitizer, with this level of alcohol content within, it is considered by default to be a hazardous material,” Singletary continued.
During Wednesday’s announcement, authorities confirmed that any remaining hand sanitizer must be properly disposed of and that any contamination that’s occurred at any of the three sites must be properly disposed of and resolved.
A spotlight shined on Bordwine Development, Inc. earlier this month following a massive fire at the old Chickasha Manufacturing building.
At the time, Chickasha’s Fire Chief estimated that 1.5 to 2 million gallons of 75% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which is easily flammable, burned.
“No evidence of attempts to comply with applicable regulations governing storage, handling, or recycling of hazardous waste were observed DEQ personnel also observed two Waste Connections poly carts (trash cans), one containing empty plastic bottles and one with bottles containing a clear liquid. The poly carts were observed next to a tote with a funnel in the top that had two empty bottles upside down, apparently draining into the tote,” court documents read.
District Attorney Jason Hicks said the hand sanitizer is just one of several products that might still be circulating from the company, while warning anyone in possession of them should get rid of them, immediately.
“Anything that has some type of alcohol base in it, if it came [from Bordwine], the key is in taking it back,” he said.
Anyone is possession of alcohol-based products made by Bordwine, including shampoo, soap, hand sanitizer and sunscreen, are encouraged to drop them off at the Chickasha Fire Department.