Former employees of LIC chemical factory detail alleged illegal, dangerous violations

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens (PIX11) — Luis Rodriguez is one of four men who recently shared their inside view of Ronbar Laboratories in Long Island City.

The factory off of Van Dam Street is where Rodriguez along with Carlos Vega, Courtney Lloyd and Pedro Hernandez worked for more than a combined 40 years, until they say it just got be too much.

“I was shocked to see what was going on,” said Vega.

“In my opinion, the owner did not care,” Lloyd added. “The safety of the public, his own safety, he did not care.”

The man that Lloyd says did not care is Sheldon Borgen, the owner of Ronbar Laboratories, a company that specializes in the production of cleaning supplies.  But in a civil complaint filed in Queens County Court, the former employees state that in reality Ronbar maintains a workplace riddled with incredibly dangerous violations.

The former employees allege in the complaint that the company disposed of chemicals by dumping them into open sewers and pipes.  Rodriguez said that the marching orders from management were simple: You don’t like it, you can get out.

The workers are alleging there were numerous federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations that were violated.  One of those alleged infractions is not only prohibited by OSHA, but the city has banned it for more than a decade.

The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002 made the act of smoking illegal for businesses housed inside of buildings, factories and warehouses.  However, inside the facility where highly flammable pure alcohol is alleged to be exposed, PIX11 News obtained video of a Ronbar employee smoking on the floor of the facility.

The workers say they ultimately went to OSHA with their concerns. “We filed a complaint with OSHA, to exercise rights as employees and safety, he said, OK, not even 15 minutes later he called all us up and fired us,” said Rodriguez.

PIX11 News did go to Ronbar to approach Sheldon Borgen for his perspective on the complaint.  Instead his son Barry Borgen did the talking stating that, “We got fined by OSHA and we took care of all the problems.”

He also said, “no” when asked if employees smoke inside the facility.

Borgan’s attorney disputes claims made by the four employees, saying that the employees were fired for “walking out of the job.”  He also states that other employees who did not go to OSHA were terminated as well.  As for the allegation of employees being allowed to smoke inside of Ronbar, well that is “false.”

Borgen’s attorney also responded to the complaint by the four men stating quote, “There is no dumping of chemicals.  It ain’t so.”

Borgen’s counsel also added that Ronbar received nothing more than “a slap on the wrist” from OSHA.

The investigation by OSHA remains open on its website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Queens Videos

Lyft driver killed in Queens crash; 2nd driver arrested, police say

How rain gardens stop flooding and water pollution

Queens mom wants daughter's murder to change law

Man arrested in shooting of 10-year-old Queens boy Justin Wallace

Arrest in shooting of Queens boy, community mourns

Queens high school launches digital 'Comfort Food' cookbook to support families in need

More Queens

Connect with PIX11 Online

Connect with PIX11 Online

Trending Stories

Don't Miss