AUSTINTOWN Haz-Mat handler seeks protection in bankruptcy court

Austintown company says it intends to emerge from bankruptcy court within two years.
AUSTINTOWN -- A local hazardous waste removal company that is locked in a legal dispute with the city of Warren has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Innerscope Technical Services, 6077 Silica Road, is trying to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code, said Tony Cervone, company president.
"We're not going anywhere. We're staying in business," he said.
Innerscope, which handles asbestos, lead-based paint and other hazardous materials, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Youngstown last month, listing assets of $475,000 and debts of $1.6 million. The largest creditor is Bank One, which is owed about $650,000.
Problem: Cervone said the company's largest problem involved a hazardous waste cleanup project at the Mahoningside Power Plant in Warren. Innerscope filed a lawsuit against the city of Warren last year after it was removed from the project. The two sides are in mediation, Cervone said.
He said Innerscope worked on the project for three months in a joint venture with another contractor but wasn't paid. Innerscope also has filed a libel lawsuit against the other contractor, McCabe Engineering of Richfield.
Mayor Hank Angelo and the city lawyer handling the case could not be reached to comment.
Cervone said the 23-employee company also was hurt by a weaker economy last year. Court documents say company sales fell from $2.37 million in 1999 to $1.34 million last year. Sales this year until the filing April 16 were $260,000.
Cervone said Innerscope has a backlog of work and he expects the company to successfully emerge from bankruptcy court within two years.
Cervone started Innerscope 10 years ago after working for MS Consultants of Youngstown. He had been president of an MS subsidiary, Universal Asbestos Management, when that business was closed in 1991. The subsidiary consulted on asbestos removal work.
Dropped projects: Also, Cervone has proposed two downtown development projects recently that haven't panned out.
Last year he said he would remodel a downtown building and open H.D. Rider's Rock Cafe. Downtown development officials declared the project dead this week because of inactivity.
Cervone proposed buying several buildings on the west end of downtown in 1997. He planned to relocate his company there and create professional offices and retail shops. He dropped the project the next year, citing the failure of the proposed renovation of the Higbee department store, which has now been torn down.

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