Former Scranton Cooperage Head Facing Hazardous Waste Charges Related to Huge Fire

JESSUP -- When the state attorney general's office started looking into the cause of a 2014 chemical fire in Jessup, investigators found more than expected.

On Wednesday, the attorney general announced more felony charges against the owner of the former Scranton Cooperage in Jessup. He's now accused of illegally storing hazardous waste.

The fire at Scranton Cooperage in June of 2014 is one that the Jessup Hose Company, along with about 200 other firefighters who helped them, won't soon forget.

The business is now closed and the owner has already been charged for the chemicals that caused the devastating fire.

Now, he will be charged for thousands of gallons of other chemicals he allegedly disposed of illegally.

Black smoke billowed above Scranton Cooperage in Jessup in June of 2014. It could be seen all across Lackawanna County.

The water and foam firefighters used flowed purple out of the place that recycled plastic barrels. The purple water was the first of many mysteries surrounding Scranton Cooperage.

The state attorney general's office is now filing a second set of felony charges against the cooperage's owner Eric Spatt of South Abington Township. The new charges are based on what investigators found after the fire.

They say Spatt was storing thousands of gallons of chemical solvents and disposing of them illegally.

"Disposing of this waste is expensive and brings with it review from the DEP. Spatt, because he was motivated by greed, increased his profits by not telling the DEP what he was up to and hiding in plain sight," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Shapiro listed the new environmental charges while standing about 100 yards away from the former cooperage. It has a new name and a new owner but Eric Spatt is still employed there.

The fire chief in Jessup has been hoping for this kind of resolution.

"I was surprised when I spoke to the investigator and the prosecutor, the amount of things that were there that we weren't aware of," said Jessup Hose Company Chief Steve Pitoniak.

Chief Pitoniak says on that day in 2014, he knew firefighters were running toward danger. Now he knows they were also running into the unknown.

"It means that somebody is finally doing something," said the chief. "We've had many incidents here over the years, and we always notified DEP and it seemed that nothing was really getting done. There was information, supposedly, out there, until we started raising a ruckus from DEP. I'm glad that the attorney general has stepped in."

Eric Spatt is scheduled to be arraigned on those environmental charges on Thursday. They include failure to manage hazardous waste, and a failure to maintain records. He could face 40 years in prison if convicted on these charges.

3 comments

  • Sam I Am

    Butler Mine.
    Yacavazzi landfill in Old Forge.
    Morgan Highway landfill.
    William Lavelles bore hole on Keyser Ave.

    Yupp
    NEPA is a dumping ground for sure.

    • Walter Halal

      .. Don’t forget other great hits like:
      Denaples Junkyard
      The Coxton Yard tire fire
      Exide Battery
      The hits keep on comin’!

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