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PVS Chemicals Inc., which last week was sued by State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco for discharging acid into the Buffalo River from its Lee Street plant, has already taken steps to clean up water and ground adjacent to the facility, said its plant manager.

Gregory Pimento did not contest the state attorney general's charges that PVS Chemicals released "highly concentrated acidic discharges" into the Buffalo River on at least 50 occasions.

"There have been occurrences," admitted Pimento. "I understand that. We take them very seriously."

He also acknowledged, as the suit filed in federal court claims, that the company released sulfur dioxide into the air on June 19, 1996, violating air pollution laws.

PVS Chemicals has instituted a number of initiatives -- at a total cost of around $350,000 -- that Pimento said would decrease the likelihood of any discharges in the future. These include uprooting all of the facility's underground piping and putting it aboveground, testing all water before it is discharged and better training of the company's employees, he said.

"Our focus is on improving the environment," said Pimento. "We're putting our money where our mouth is."

The company faces fines that could reach into the millions of dollars for the environmental violations, which according to Vacco occurred due to "leaking pipes, broken valves, equipment failures and inadequate containment measures" that allowed acid to enter discharge water.

Pimento said that the lawsuit stems from unsuccessful talks between PVS Chemicals and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which handed the Buffalo company's file over to the attorney general.

"One issue we couldn't come to agreement on was groundwater testing," said Pimento.

It is PVS Chemicals' contention that other companies in the area are responsible for some of the contaminated groundwater on its property in the Seneca-Babcock section of Buffalo.

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