Company Involved in Toxic Spill Has Unsettling Past

Company Involved in Toxic Spill Has Unsettling Past

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Samantha Hayes ReportingAs investigators search for answers in Sunday's toxic train spill an Eyewitness News investigation has uncovered an unsettling history for the company that loaded the tanker with chemicals. Federal documents show PSC tried to abandon sites in other states without providing for cleanup.

Now that the spill in South Salt Lake is being cleaned up, investigators are meeting to discuss their next move and perhaps where to point the finger. We found the company that loaded the tanker has a history of trying to leave someone else with the clean-up.

It takes a nasty mix of chemicals to bore through a steel tanker.

Chief Steve Foote, South Salt Lake Fire Dept.: "This rail car disintegrated before our eyes, and seams bursting and holes. This just doesn't happen on a whim."

Local investigators say the toxic spill put emergency crews and residents at risk and they want to know why and how it happened.

Steve Foote: "Did we have a failure of a liner? I think it goes much further than that. And the fact that we had several chemicals in that vessel, that concerns me."

Philip Services Corporation, or PSC, leased the tanker and loaded the chemicals. The company says it did nothing wrong. Eyewitness News found evidence that in the past PSC has tried to leave contaminated sites.

Settlement papers say in 2003 PSC tried to abandon facilities in Texas, New York state, Pennsylvania, and Maryland without providing for clean-up. Total cost was around 16.5 million dollars.

The Department of Justice says the company tried to use bankruptcy laws to get away with it. But PSC settled with the government for 6 million dollars.

There is still conflicting information about Sunday's spill in South Salt Lake. Federal and local investigators are sorting out everyone's story, and Union Pacific is absorbing the clean-up cost right now.

Steve Foote: "There are always possibilities that this could turn into civil litigation, criminal. BUt our focus right now is to extract data."

Union Pacific needs those rails in operation. They expect to have the three impacted rails moving again by the end of the day.

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