January 14, 2006
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has fined LJS Enterprises, formerly known as Luhr Jensen and Sons, Inc., for mismanagement of hazardous waste.
A $33,225 penalty has been levied against LJS for violations that echo those committed in 1989, 1997 and 2001.
Phil Jensen, owner of LJS, was unavailable for comment. However, a press release from DEQ stated that the company was appealing the penalty.
In the spring of 2002, DEQ slapped a $66,354 fine on LJS for continued improper storage, labeling and containment of toxins. According to DEQ, the company generates hazardous waste during the electroplating and painting of fishing lures and related accessories.
Jensen was also accused almost four years ago of faulty recordkeeping and reporting practices. At that time, DEQ and Department of Ecology (DOE) Pollution Prevention staff from the state of Washington provided technical assistance to LJS’ operations. The agencies wanted to help the company better manage toxic substances.
Also in 2002, the City of Hood River levied a $1,000 fine against LJS for releasing a high pH effluent into the wastewater treatment plant.
That penalty followed a $10,000 penalty against the company for dumping heavy metals into the system.
“The company’s practices of allowing chrome plating wastes to accumulate beneath the plating room floor grating and in the secondary containment structures are areas of continuing noncompliance and of particular concern,” said Jeff Ingalls of DEQ’s Hazardous Waste Program in Bend.
He said improper management of hazardous waste can adversely affect air, soil and water quality, thereby increasing the risk to public health.
In June of 2005, DEQ and Environmental Protection Agency representatives documented further violations of Oregon’s hazardous waste regulations.
LJS was also cited for violating conditions of the facility’s stormwater discharge permit. The Portway facility is authorized to discharge stormwater to the Columbia River, with the permit subject to specific limitations and conditions.
Ingalls said LJS is working cooperatively with DEQ to remedy the problems found last year. However, the waterfront plant is scheduled to close its doors by next July.
Jensen has merged the business with Finland-based Rapala/VMC and the product line will be made in Shenzen, China, just north of Hong Kong.
Layoffs of the 150 employees at the company began in November but the majority of personnel will stay on the job until late spring.
The Oak Grove facility that manufactures Little and Big Chief electric smokers and wood flavor chips will continue under the LJS umbrella.
That business is now called Smokehouse Products and employs about 30 people.