Blaming, in part, legal costs from defending lawsuits filed by the state of Illinois, American Ecology Corp., an Agoura Hills-based waste management firm, reported 71% lower earnings on 3% lower sales for its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
The company said its net income for the quarter was $700,000, or 23 cents a share, on sales of $15.5 million. For the year, the company reported net income of $3.2 million, or $1.10 per share, down 58% from the prior year. Sales in 1986 dropped 17% to $47.9 million.
American Ecology attributed its lower sales primarily to a decrease in the amount of low-level radioactive waste produced by American firms. A federal law mandating a 40% increase in the cost of dumping the waste also curbed the generation of radioactive waste.
The Illinois suits charge that traces of radioactive isotopes have ended up in a lake more than 2,000 feet from a dump the company operated in Sheffield, Ill. in the 1970s, and seeks damages based on the "potential harm" the site poses to the environment. U.S. Ecology has denied the charges and maintains that it expects to win the lawsuits.
U.S. Ecology is California's designee to design, build and operate the state's first low-level radioactive waste site. The company is in the process of selecting a site in desert areas.