Owners of burning Painesville Township plant tied to 2006 Cleveland explosion and fire

Fmr. company pleaded guilty on toxic waste charges

CLEVELAND - An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation has found the owners of a Painesville Township plant that caught fire Thursday are tied to a 2006 Cleveland explosion and fire.

General Environmental Management operated the plant  on Transport Road in The Flats when it caught fire and exploded in April 2006.

Records obtained through the Ohio Secretary of State show the company was once operated by Eric C. Lofquist and Scott A. Forster, who now serve as president and vice president of Magnus International Group -- the company that owns Hardy Industrial Technologies in Painesville Township.

The General Environmental Management plant exploded and burst into flames on April 25, 2006, sending a chemical tank 50 feet into the air and shaking houses two miles away.

Prior to the explosion, the plant had a two-year history of non-compliance with Ohio environmental regulations , as well as safety concerns raised by the Cleveland Fire Department.

In addition, our investigation obtained federal court records that show Forster and General Environmental Management pleaded guilty in 2009 to two federal criminal counts of making false statements and one count of falsifying documents in regards to hazardous waste and chemical discharges at the plant.

The charges related to violations that occurred prior to the plant's 2006 explosion and fire.

Forster was sentenced to 12 months probation, 40 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine.

General Environmental Management was later sold.

Both Forster and Lofquist have also been named in a May 2001 complaint filed in federal court by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding hazardous waste enforcement.

The EPA is seeking proposing almost $2 million in fines relating to Carbon Injection Systems, LLC, in Warren, Ohio, that have ties to to both men..

Hardy Technologies in Painesville has no record of safety violations filed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

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