Friday, February 01, 2002

E-check station fires three workers

Behavior called 'inappropriate'

By Kakie Urch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Three Envirotest Systems Corp. employees at the Boone County vehicle emissions testing station have been fired, after a customer told state officials the contract inspectors conspired to pass his vehicle after he witnessed “inappropriate behavior.”

        The state Office of Inspector General will conduct investigations at the E-check station in Florence and at the stations in Kenton and Campbell counties.

        A state Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet spokesman wouldn't elaborate on the behavior, which took place this week.

        “The company felt it was inappropriate,” the cabinet's Mark York said of Envirotest Systems Corp., the California company that holds the contract for the required emissions testing program that began in Northern Kentucky in 1999.

        The company took “very swift action, which we commend” when the incident was reported to the state's Division for Air Quality employee at the testing center, Mr. York said.

        The federally ordered emissions-testing program began in an effort to reduce ozone-damaging emissions in Northern Kentucky.

        Envirotest officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

        The goal of the inspector general's investigation, Mr. York said, is to “talk to as many of the people as possible. We're just making sure that the testing procedures are being followed and that the program is a program of integrity.”

        Vehicles in the three counties are tested every other year for emissions levels. If a vehicle doesn't pass, the system allows for a retest and a period for repairs to be made.

        This is the first investigation into any emissions center in the state, Mr. York said.


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