General Environmental Management:
A history of breaking environmental laws


General Environmental Management's record shows a pattern of violations of city fire safety codes and virtually every environmental law that they are supposed to follow.

Ohio Citizen Action has compiled information available on GEM's environmental violations from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, City of Cleveland Fire Department and Health Department, Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA, over the past two years. In addition to the charts below, U.S. EPA's database on enforcement and compliance shows that GEM has been in violation of the Clean Air Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (hazardous and solid waste law) for twelve of the past twelve quarters.

The explosion that seriously injured six people on April 20, 2006, involved the latest in a series of violations of fire safety codes, according to legal proceedings filed by the City of Cleveland on May 1, 2006.

DATE
AGENCY
EVENT
March 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for above acceptable levels for copper.
April 13, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for "significant excursions" of Arsenic and o-Cresol, giving the company 30 days to respond in writing.
April 23, 2004
Ohio EPA sends GEM a Notice of Violation for storage of hazardous waste without a permit.
April 29, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for NEORSD and Federal violations for tin levels.
May 28, 2004
Cleveland Department of Public Health Division of Air Quality sends GEM a Notice of Violation for exceeding emissions, not fulfilling best available technology requirements, and failing to comply with consent decree requirements.
June 21, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for "significant excursions" of chromium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc, giving the company 30 days to respond in writing.
July 20, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends a notice of warning - GEM's self reporting was incorrect for ammonia.
August 20, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for exceeding acceptable levels for chromium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc.
November 24, 2004
Cleveland Fire Dept files lawsuit to prohibit GEM from operating their industrial hazardous wastewater and used oil processing facility.
November 24, 2004
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a "Notice of Significant Noncompliance," for accepting wastewater from an unapproved wastestream, giving the company 14 days to bring their discharge into compliance.
December 16, 2004
GEM and the Cleveland Fire Department enter into a Consent Order - allowing GEM to operate while they were correcting violations.
January 6, 2005
Employees were using an acetylene torch to cut a pipe in the vacinity of a 50,000 gallon tank containing waste oil. The flame ignited vapors and caused an "unsustained fire."
January 6, 2005
City of Cleveland Dept. of Public Safety issues a notice to Eric Lofquist to cease use of the Oil Slide Process and retain a professional engineer to review/ make recommendations prior to the process being restarted.
January 9, 2005
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance, for above acceptable levels of zinc.
March 11, 2005
Cleveland Division of Air Quality issued a Notice of Violation to GEM for nuisance odors.
May 13, 2005
Northeast Ohio Sewer District issues order prohibiting GEM from accepting metal bearing waste streams.
June 17, 2005
Northeast Ohio Sewer District issues GEM a "Notice of Significant Noncompliance," for violating May 13 administrative order by accepting 11 loads of metal bearing waste.
June 22, 2005
GEM received ethnolamine and mixed it with a slurry in a roll-off box outsiode their facility. City Battalion Fire Chief Bob Gribble and truckers witnessing the incident described a vapor cloud so thick you could not even see.
June 22, 2005
City of Cleveland Dept. of Public Safety recommends diluting contents of roll off boxes with water and absorbent corn cob material to prevent the combination of chemicals.
July 5, 2005
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM a Notice of Significant Noncompliance for above acceptable levels of zinc, flouride and iron.
July 7, 2005
Cleveland Department of Public Health Division of Air Quality sends GEM a Notice of Violation for failure to obtain a permit-to-install or permit-to-operate.
August 25, 2005
Ohio EPA sends GEM a Notice of Violation for storage of hazardous waste without a permit.
August 2005
City Fire Inspector warns GEM that they need to provide high level alarms on their defective tanks to be in compliance with tank permits.
February 27, 2006
Cleveland DIvision of Air Quality cites GEM for odors violating air pollution and public nuisance laws.
February 28, 2006
The Ohio Attorney General files a complaint against GEM to "reduce, minimize, and otherwise abate the odors," and enters into an "agreed interim order" requiring GEM to revise its odor abatement plan.
April 18, 2006
City of Cleveland law department on behalf of the Fire Dept. sends GEM a letter asking them to install vapor alarms. The letter stated, "GEM has not completed items required under permit coverage for the tanks for conducting processes under the permits like emergency piping, tank testing and the correction of other deficiencies."
April 20, 2006

A tanker truck driver was adding additional industrial waste to Tank No. 99, which already contained flammable liquids. At the same time, a welder was operating an acetylene torch and cutting into a catwalk. The addition of industrial waste caused the vapors inside Tank No. 99 to discharge through the overflow pipe and the flame of the acetylene torch ignited the fumes under the overflow pipe. The flames back drafted. Tank No. 99 exploded with a fireball. One witness said it shot 160 feet into the air. The flames caught the facility on fire and burned employees and contracters who ran from the area of the explosion.
April 20, 2006
City Division of Fire Lt. Zahorodnij issues a Cease Use Order to GEM owner Eric Lofquist.
April 20, 2006
Northeast Ohio Sewer District sends GEM an Emergency Termination of Sewer Service Connection, writing that they would suspend the order if "the emergency situation at GEM has passed and best efforts may now be made to foster the pollution prevention and enforcement efforts of the District."
April 20, 2006
The Ohio EPA issues GEM a Notice of Violation for "release of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes into Kingsbury Run and the Cuyahoga River."
April 28, 2006
Cleveland Division of Air Quality issues GEM a Notice of Violation for failing to meet deadlines and provide information for its odor abatement and community outreach plans, and for inaccurate reporting of facts and conclusions of City investigations.
May 1, 2006
City of Cleveland files a lawsuit against GEM on behalf of the Fire Dept. to prohibit GEM from operating their hazardous industrial wastewater and used oil processing facility.
May 19, 2006
City of Cleveland Department of Building and Housing sends GEM a Notice of Violation, ordering GEM to cease and discontinue the use of its new chemical lab, which was built without city permits.