GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – A man whose pharmaceutical company was cited by state officials for how it handled potentially hazardous materials said the company is in full compliance with government regulations. state and posed no threat to the public.
Michael P. Deason of Greensboro until recently operated Pharmaceutical Dimensions on West Friendly Avenue, where state regulators said they found more than 500 containers of flammable liquids along with other hazardous pharmaceuticals and cited the company for breaching regulations designed to protect the public.
NC Policy Watch first reported issues involving the company, which worked out of a warehouse at 7353-A. West Friendly Ave., near Piedmont Triad International Airport. Deason told WGHP that the building is free of any hazardous materials, which state officials confirmed pending further inspection.
Laura Leonard, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, said in an email to WGHP that DEQ understood from Deason that “hazardous waste was shipped offsite on March 30, which is within the time limit set for the immediate. Notice of Action for Infringement (IANOV). DEQ personnel will conduct one or more follow-up inspection visits to confirm that all materials have undergone a waste determination and that hazardous waste has been removed.
A 10-page letter described violations against Pharmaceutical Dimensions, such as failing to provide an inventory list and operating without a license. There were 84 boxes of possible trash that were undated, and it was unclear how long they had been there, the letter said.
These items included flammable ethanol, aerosols, potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate and silver nitrate.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the WGHP, Deason reportedly said “shipping hazardous pharmaceutical waste offsite was a top priority as soon as funding became available.”
Deason declined to do an on-camera interview Friday, but said “operations were suspended” and “the location became compliant shortly after receiving a letter” from the state. He said there was nothing on the site that was considered a violation.
Mike Borchers, director of water resources for the city of Greensboro, said officials were unaware of the company or the potential situation prior to Policy Watch’s report. The company had no special permits for sewage – only typical commercial and residential discharges – he said, but he contacted other city departments, such as fire and engineering, to make sure they are aware. He said those agencies would follow up if necessary.
Follow-up inspections, steps
Pharmaceutical Dimensions is described as a “reverse distributor” that purchases expired or damaged pharmaceuticals, including various pills, vaccines, chemotherapy drugs, flammable devices and types of waste, and returns these materials to the manufacturer for credit or disposes of them at a hazardous waste facility, Policy Watch reported.
Leonard said in his email that the facility is not required to have a permit to perform reverse dispensing operations. She said Pharmaceutical Dimensions notified DEQ of its hazardous waste, but did not provide a clear notification that it was operating as a reverse dispenser.
“Once it was determined that the waste had accumulated on site for more than 180 days, the facility was in violation for failing to obtain a permit as a storage facility under the RCRA,” she said.
Policy Watch cited, among other things, the company’s failure to provide an inventory list of items it stocked and said the company could face penalties of up to $32,500 per day. .
“Division personnel are working with the EPA’s Emergency Response and Removal Branch to address concerns regarding facility closure and disposal of waste,” Leonard wrote in his e-mail. mail. “Divisional hazardous waste staff will conduct a follow-up inspection once the 30-day return-to-compliance date is reached. If hazardous waste or potentially hazardous waste remains on site, division personnel will contact EPA to determine if removal is warranted. Fees and fines will need to be determined based on the establishment’s response.
She also said that the Hazardous Waste Section of the Waste Management Division handles pharmaceuticals once they are deemed hazardous waste for disposal. Hazardous waste staff contacted the DEA whose representatives informed staff that they were conducting their own audit.
She referred questions about those findings to the DEA.
Policy Watch said the company incorporated in 2006 and has moved several times in its 15 years.
Policy Watch said Tim McQueen, who previously managed the company’s day-to-day operations, said regulatory issues had negatively affected the business. Deason told WGHP he would explain them later.
For many years, some of these types of items were flushed down toilets and buried in landfills, but they posed threats to the environment, including seeping into water supplies. Some of the materials were toxic and some could be flammable.
In 2019, Policy Watch reported, the EPA tightened rules controlling these items, and North Carolina adopted the federal provisions. A report by the Inspector General had criticized the obsolescence of regulations and said that “hazardous waste regulations are not keeping pace with drug development”.
McQueen apparently operates Ozone Waste Solutions there now, and Leonard told Policy Watch that state officials are working to remove non-hazardous materials from the facility.
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