Repeat (pollution) offender

Business with a rap sheet may still get license

The city's License Review Board voted May 15 to deny a business license to an auto-recycling facility that's been cited five times for environmental violations. The vote bucked the advice of the city's law department, which told the board "there's no reason" to deny the license.

Perkins Auto Recycling, located in southwest Atlanta, has been cited by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the city of Atlanta for, among other things, failure to stop illegal dumping into state waters, failure to operate with a business license, and theft by receiving stolen vehicles.

Yet the city's law department told the review board there are no reasons to deny the business a license, even though the department admitted it knew about the numerous citations.

"We've looked at it and they've met the letter of the law," said Assistant City Attorney Shelitha Robertson at the review-board meeting. "They're entitled to the license."

Robertson declined to comment. Mayor Shirley Franklin has 90 days to either endorse the board's decision, or overrule it and grant the business license.

On Aug. 15, 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency and state Environmental Protection Division spent several days cleaning up about 200 gallons of oil that came from a storm-water drain and emptied into a creek near Perkerson Park, a popular recreational area in Capitol View. The agencies fined Perkins $45,000 for the cost of cleanup. Four months later, the recycling business signed a consent decree with the state that ordered the company to obtain a general storm-water permit, prepare a pollution-prevention plan and immediately cease the dumping.

But on March 16, 2005, the division noted that Perkins "has failed to comply with conditions outlined in [the] signed consent order" after the EPA documented the illegal discharge of waste auto oil into a drainage system. The division fined the company another $25,000.

Bert Langley, a district manager at the state environmental division, says Perkins has made recent strides to stop polluting the creek. "Mr. Perkins has signed an agreement with us to accomplish certain things," Langley says. "He's complied with everything we've asked."

Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who represents the area, says the company's history shows a lack of willingness to comply with orders. "They've shown that they don't give a crap," she says. "Only after they've been cited numerous times do they decide to take the orders seriously."