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Environmental Groups Not Happy With Ira Rennert

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Sagaponack resident and reminder of why you chose the wrong profession, Ira Rennert, is in trouble with environmental groups. No, not because his ginormous estate is wreaking havoc on the area. They're claiming he's using strategic bankruptcy as a way of avoiding paying for environmental damage allegedly caused by companies he owns.

"This is the track record. His company has done this all over the planet," according to an environmentalist the NY Post spoke to for the story. Back in 2001, his Utah magnesium mine declared bankruptcy after being slapped with a $900M fine from the EPA for dumping chromium, PCBs and other toxins into the Great Salt Lake (allegedly). After a financial reorganization, the company was absolved of the legal liability, but remains under the ownership of his holding company. Five years later, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp threatened to confiscate his Sagaponack estate fearing they'd be left holding the bag for $189M in pension liabilities.

The most recent filing comes after his company purchased Bethlehem Steel (renamed RG Steel) in Sparrow Point, Maryland last year and assumed more than $500M in "environmental liabilities, which include ongoing treatment of contaminated groundwater to meet guidelines set by the EPA." Grounds around the facility have been contaminated with benzene and naphthalene, both known carcinogens.

Earning his paycheck, a spokesman for RG Steel said the filinf had nothing to do with the fines, all environmental obligations will be honored, and he doesn't "think Sparrow Point poses any immediate threat to public health or safety." Really, what did you expect him to say?

· Furor at steel tycoon Rennert's bankruptcy 'ploy' [NY Post]