The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office has filed a civil complaint against a Redwood City construction company that allegedly disposed of toxic chemicals in a Dumpster, causing three garbage workers to be hospitalized from exposure.
The complaint alleges that some time around Dec. 26, 2011, Arron John Pellarin -- owner of Pellarin Construction Company -- assigned three of his employees to conduct various improvements at its Redwood City facility, located at 1520 Main St., Deputy District Attorney Todd Feinberg said.
The work included repairing a fence, installing an awning, and preparing the building for painting.
According to the complaint, a work supervisor found five plastic containers holding a variety of hazardous materials, including hydrochloric acid, ammonia, Marine Resin and drain cleaner containing sulfuric acid.
Some of the containers were believed to have been stored on the property for as long as 10 years, Feinberg said.
The supervisor allegedly disposed of the plastic containers and other debris from the work in a garbage Dumpster, Feinberg said.
At about 10 a.m. on Jan. 3, two Recology employees drove a rear-loading garbage truck onto the property and loaded the contents of the Dumpster into the back. When the truck started to compress the garbage, the contents exploded, causing a liquid substance to spray out and a white cloud to form.
The two workers were not hit by any material,
A Recology supervisor arrived at the scene within 15 minutes and reported walking through a gas cloud that was still present at the rear of the truck.
The supervisor, who also became sick, called 911, prompting a full hazardous materials response that shut down businesses on Main Street for several hours while technicians determined what had exploded and how to safely remove it from the area.
All three Recology employees were hospitalized.
The civil complaint seeks damages for multiple violations of environmental law, including intentional disposal of hazardous or extremely hazardous waste at an unauthorized point, not maintaining a safe work environment, and improper employee training, Feinberg said.
"This is an excellent example of the dangers posed by employers that don't comply with workplace safety laws," he said.
The complaint further seeks reimbursement for the costs associated with the decontamination and emergency response, which included firefighters from Belmont, Redwood City and Woodside, Redwood City police and the county hazardous materials team.
David Sloan, an attorney representing Pellarin Construction, said he received a copy of the complaint late Monday and was in the process of reviewing it.
A case management review conference has been scheduled to take place in Redwood City on Dec. 11, 2012.