HPI Products ordered to close

·3 min read

Sep. 23—A federal judge in the Western District Court of Missouri has ordered HPI Products to end its operations.

In 2008, state and federal officials filed a complaint against HPI, which has its headquarters at 222 Sylvanie St., for its handling of hazardous waste, including chemicals leaking into the city's water supply. A settlement eventually was reached and the parties agreed to a consent decree to clean up chemical waste.

HPI failed to comply with the consent decree, so, in 2018, the court ordered the company to enter a temporary receivership. This meant a third party would oversee HPI's business. This led to the company making some efforts to comply with the consent decree, which eventually ended the receivership. However, due to more environmental concerns, the court froze HPI's assets and appointed another receiver in June 2021.

Unlike the previous receivership, HPI made little effort to comply with the latest consent decree, according to court documents. The receiver said the company has failed to comply with federal, state and local laws for more than 10 years.

"(HPI's) lack of responsiveness, inaccurate forecasts and unwillingness to improve upon or change past practices have inspired little to no confidence in their businesses' prospects, let alone their ability to meaningfully address environmental obligations pursuant to the Consent Decree," said Greenfield Environment Trust Group, the temporary receiver appointed to oversee HPI, in a previous status report.

The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with the receiver's request to wind down operations. Kevin Snowden, an inspector with the EPA, said he identified about 110,000 pounds of hazardous waste at HPI's three active St. Joseph facilities in June. There also are 293 tons of nonhazardous material that need to be taken care of. The disposal of the hazardous waste alone would cost about $325,000, which is why the receiver recommends ending operations.

The federal judge agreed with the receiver's motion to end operations because HPI doesn't have enough net cash available from continued operations to pay for operational oversight or compliance with the consent decree.

The receiver isn't convinced that "(HPI's) intrinsically dangerous businesses can be operated safely, profitably, and in compliance with legal requirements (including under the Consent Decree) without a significant capital infusion."

HPI's lawyers stated in their response to the motion to end operations that the problem is a financial one, rather than concerns with health or the environment. William Garvey, the owner of HPI, couldn't be reached for comment.

"The progress made since the Temporary Receivership has been in place cannot be denied and merits continuation for an additional period of time," representatives of HPI said in a court document.

However, Judge Greg Kays disagreed, and this week he officially ordered HPI to end operations permanently.

"The Court concludes that, given the intrinsically dangerous nature of (HPI's) businesses, the health and safety of the public and the environment requires (HPI's) businesses be wound down," Kays said.

The temporary receiver has been extended 60 days to oversee the end of HPI. This includes securing all of HPI's properties to prevent trespassing, any necessary environmental activities, ending production, arranging pickup of materials or products owned by other businesses and disposing of leftover chemicals and waste.

The temporary receiver estimates the remaining cost of its extension to be $25,000. This will be funded by revenue generated from operations and the remaining escrow funds. Any revenue made until HPI closes will go toward complying with the consent decree.

Quinn Ritzdorf can be reached at quinn.ritzdorf@newspressnow.com