State officials have accused one of the North Shore’s largest municipal-services companies of violating rules meant to protect local waters from pollution, Blank Slate Media has learned.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said Westbury-based Outworx Group flouted state regulations by letting potentially polluted stormwater run from its Manorhaven industrial property into wetlands adjacent to the site without the proper safeguards in place.
The facility at 12 Manorhaven Blvd. is home to Dejana Industries, the maintenance and trash-hauling outfit that serves several North Shore municipalities as an Outworx subsidiary.
State officials who inspected the Dejana site on Jan. 7 in response to a complaint found the facility was discharging stormwater without a so-called State Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, which requires companies to take steps to prevent pollution from such runoff, the DEC said.
The officials documented stormwater runoff that “may have been in contact with street cleaning debris,” a potential source of pollution, according to the DEC.
“Stormwater coming into contact with industrial waste material can pick up pollutants and discharge into the local waters,” the agency told Blank Slate Media in an email. “As such, permit coverage is needed along with a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan outlining best management practices to handle on-site stormwater.”
In a brief statement, Outworx Chief Operating Officer Sal Napoli defended the company’s efforts to follow environmental rules.
“At Outworx Group, Dejana Industries, and all of our brands, we take the environment and green initiatives very seriously,” Napoli said. “We are and will continue to be in compliance with all local ordinances.”
The problem at the Manorhaven site isn’t new — and Outworx could face stiff financial penalties for allegedly breaking the rules.
The Dejana facility has been operating without the required stormwater discharge permit since about March 2018, according to a formal violation notice the DEC sent Outworx on March 19 of this year.
The company could face a fine of up to $37,500 for each day it’s in violation of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law, the notice says. That adds up to a maximum penalty of more than $41.7 million for the roughly three-year period that the site has lacked a permit.
But it’s uncertain how much money, if any, Outworx will have to fork over to the state. Asked whether the company currently owes the DEC any fines, the agency said only that its enforcement investigation into the site is ongoing. It’s also unclear when that case might conclude.
“DEC will be working to ensure the facility is compliant,” the agency said.
To get into compliance, the Dejana site would have to file a notice of intent to get coverage under the required permit, along with a plan to prevent stormwater pollution and documentation that the practices laid out in such a plan are implemented, according to the DEC.
The facility would also have to stop discharging “vehicle wash water,” the agency said.
This isn’t the first time the DEC has raised environmental concerns at the Dejana Industries site. In 2013, the agency found a “small” amount of hydraulic oil and motor oil had spilled onto a gravel driveway there, some of which was seen leading to the stream in the adjacent Manorhaven Preserve.
Outworx grew out of the business empire that Port Washington entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Dejana founded in 1962. It started with a landscaping outfit and expanded into a family of paving, street-sweeping, trash-hauling and other businesses, including Aero Snow Removal, which serves airports and commercial sites across the country.
Dejana Industries and Aero are now part of Outworx Group, which rebranded under its current name in April 2020, a little more than two years after Manhattan-based private equity firm Mill Point Capital took a stake in Dejana’s business.
A Dejana spokeswoman told Blank Slate Media in January 2018 that Dejana had sold his eponymous company. But a December 2017 press release announcing the deal with Mill Point said Dejana would “retain a significant ownership stake” in the business.