Judge orders C6-Zero to comply with state clean-up order

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 1:08 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A district court judge ordered C6-Zero, the company whose plant exploded in Marengo and injured 10 people in December 2020, to comply with the Iowa Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) Order to stop operating and clean up the site on Monday.

The order requires the company to clean up contaminated soil and water, give DNR officials access to the property and give the department a list of all chemicals used at the plant. Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird sued C6-Zero in January after the company missed deadlines in the order like the list of chemicals used in the building, which has been an ongoing dispute between the company and officials before the explosion.

Tammie Krausman, who is a spokesperson for DNR, said the order comes after an agreement between C6-Zero, the department, and the Attorney Generals’ Office on Friday. She said the agreement includes the DNR creating a contract with a two different companies, Testrasolv and Rain for Rent, to treat the contaminated water in the stormwater basin.

Krausman said the basin has about 12 million gallons of water and could take four weeks. She said the state is paying for the contract but will seek reimbursement from C6-Zero.

Krausman also said the Iowa County Drainage District will create a diversion channel to allow snowmelt and rainwater to flow into the Iowa River, which will allow the stormwater to bypass the contaminated stormwater basin. She said this will prevent additional water from entering the basin and prevent the back-up of water into the city of Marengo.

“This is an emergency situation to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of Iowa,” she said in an email. “This contract will ensure that contaminants are treated to below detection levels before being discharged into the Iowa River and protect the citizens of Marengo who rely on the capacity of the stormwater basin to prevent flood waters from causing damage.”

According to the court order, the company is required to deposit $75,000 into a trust account to be used on the assessment and remediation work at the property. C6-Zero, according to the order, is also required to pay EcoSource $333,580 for their assessment and remediation work performed at the property.

“This is a matter of Iowans’ safety,” said Attorney General Brenna Bird. “I’m glad that C6-Zero has now agreed to comply with the law and clean up the property. Our office will continue to monitor the situation and work with the Iowa DNR to ensure this order is followed.”

Our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team found the company’s founder, Howard Brand, and the company was sued multiple times for not paying bills. Heartland Co-Op sued C6-Zero in November 2022 for refusing to pay for diesel fuel worth $130,000.

TMC Drafting Services, which is a scanning and drafting services company, sued C6-Zero and Howard Brand for not paying invoices of around $25,000 in January 2022. According to court filings, TMC Drafting Services said it used 3D scanning services, equipment measurements, along with building and equipment modeling at their facility in Marengo.

TMC Drafting Services claimed Brand dissolved a similar-sounding company, C6, after receiving a letter demanding payment. TMC Drafting Services said Brand operated his companies as “sham entities” and uses them to “perpetuate fraud and/or promote injustice.”

Cassandra Alesch, who represented TMC Drafting Services, said the suit ended in a settlement.

According to court documents Brand and another similar-sounding company, C6 Zero Environmental, were also sued for not paying bills in April 2021. Tomorrow Transport LLC, which is based in Louisiana, said Brand didn’t pay for transport and delivery fees worth $3,000.

Mark Corallo, who is a spokesperson for the C6-Zero, said the company is continuing to work collaboratively with the state and clean up is ongoing.