|quality assurance personnel complained to corporate and regional personnel that testers were inadequately trained and were performing invalid tests, but the corporation failed to implement quality assurance that could have prevented invalid testing practices by testers.
In addition to paying the criminal fine and restitution, Tanknology will serve a term of probation for five years. Tanknology also will implement a quality management system to ensure that false and improper testing practices do not occur again.
Pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Tanknology agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that were filed by United States Attorneys in 10 federal districts, including the Western District of Texas; the Northern District of Texas; the Central District of California; the District of Arizona; the Northern District of Illinois; the Middle District of Florida; the District of South Carolina; the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; the District of Massachusetts; and the District of New Jersey. Tanknology will enter all pleas in the Western District of Texas.
The case was investigated by the following federal criminal investigative agencies, including EPA Criminal Investigation Division, FBI, U.S Postal Service Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigation Division, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Navy Criminal Investigative Service and NASA. Investigators were assisted by personnel from the Texas Natural Resources and Conservation Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
In a separate case involving fraudulent UST testing, the Justice Department and EPA announced in January 2002 that a former environmental contractor, James Edward Adams of Inman, S.C., had been sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervisory release for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and related crimes. Adams admitted to directing his employees to fraudulently provide false UST test reports to owners and operators of UST facilities located in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee.
EPA has extensive information on underground storage tanks and federal requirements at and at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/newsroom and at http://www.epa.gov/swerust1/overview.htm.
LOUISIANA COMPANY FINED FOR WETLANDS DESTRUCTION
Tammany Holding, Corp., Slidell, La., pleaded guilty and was sentenced on July 3 to pay a $300,000 fine for violating the Clean Water Act in 1997 and 1998 by illegally filling a wetland without a permit. The company also violated the Rivers and Harbors Act in 1997 when it dredged and discharged material into Lake Ponchatrain without a permit while in the process of building the Lakeshore Estates development near Lake Ponchatrain. Tammany also will pay $38,000 in restitution to four environmental groups: $20,000 to the Lake Ponchatrain Basin Foundation, $10,000 to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, $5,000 to the Southern Environmental Enforcement Network and $3,000 to Keep Our Peaceful Environment. Wetlands are important natural areas where surface waters are naturally cleansed of pollutants and many species of fish and wildlife live. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans.
COLORADO MAN SENTENCED TO 17-YEARS IMPRISONMENT, $100,000 FINE
In a Colorado state case co-investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and National Enforcement Investigations Center (NEIC), Hormoz Pourat was sentenced on July 3 to serve 17 years in prison and pay a $100,000 fine for violating Colorado's Organized Crime Control Act. He is one of the principal managers and owners of a hazardous waste management company known as AAD, which operated in Colorado and California. He also was ordered to pay cleanup and the investigative costs of Colorado's Jefferson County District Court. AAD was a dry cleaning waste disposal company that accepted waste perchloroethylene dry cleaning solvent from dry cleaners throughout the western United States. AAD operated a hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in Vernon, Calif., and operated a transfer facility in Lakewood, Colo., which also received waste from California and repackaged it for shipment to hazardous waste landfills in Idaho and Nevada. The defendant pleaded guilty to different charges: that AAD's waste handling activities resulted in the illegal storage of hazardous wastes in Colorado; false descriptions of shipments of untreated wastes in order to have the waste illegally buried in Idaho and Nevada; misrepresentations to public servants, including Colorado Department of Health inspectors; and theft of money from dry cleaners who paid for legal waste disposal. Improper handling and disposal of dry cleaning wastes can present a significant health hazard. The case was investigated by EPA's CID and NEIC, environmental agencies of Colorado and California and Jefferson County, Colo., law enforcement agencies. It was prosecuted by the Colorado Attorney General's office in Denver.
FORMER KANSAS LAB OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO FRAUD, FALSEHOODS
Terian Koester, former owner of QWAL Laboratories in Pittsburgh, Kan., pleaded guilty on July 3 to mail fraud and making false statements in violation of the Clean Water Act CWA). In his plea, the defendant admitted that his laboratory deliberately falsified tests performed on water samples performed for clients who had CWA discharge permits. Falsifying water sample tests results can cause the discharge of waters with higher than permitted levels of pollutants, making surface waters unsuitable for drinking, recreation and the support of aquatic life and wildlife. When sentenced, Koester faces a maximum sentence of up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $260,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas City.
Luke C. Hester email@example.com
SEATTLE PROPRIETOR, FUGITIVE IN MEXICO, PLEADS GUILTY
Sherman Smith, owner of Seawall Construction, a Seattle area marine construction company, pleaded guilty to failure to appear for a judicial proceeding on June 14. Smith was surrendered to the U.S. Marshall's Service in Tucson, Ariz., on April 1 by the Mexican government. Smith had forfeited $20,000 bail when he failed to appear for trial in federal court in Washington state in May 1996 and had been living in Mexico. Smith had been previously charged with violating the Clean Water Act, but those charges have been dropped in return for his guilty plea for failure to appear. The charges arose from an oil spill that occurred when the Tug Omar sank in Puget Sound. Witnesses alleged that Smith had not properly maintained the tug and knew it was taking on water. Previously, in 1989, Smith had been convicted of pumping oily bilge water into Puget Sound. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Washington State Environmental Crimes Task Force. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle.
FORMER NEW JERSEY TESTING FIRM MANAGER PLEADS GUILTY
Alan Hodgson, former Northeast Regional Operations Manager for SGS Control Services Inc., in Edison, N.J., pleaded guilty on June 18 to failing to file required reports on reformulated gasoline. The reports are required to be provided to EPA under the Clean Air Act. Hodgson failed to file the reports in order to hide the fact that he had provided false analyses to SGS customers. These analyses falsely indicated that the customers' gasoline met Clean Air Act standards. Meeting these standards helps reduce air pollutants that can cause a variety of respiratory diseases. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Luke C. Hester 202-564-7818 / firstname.lastname@example.org
TENNESSEE PHYSICIAN SENTENCED FOR CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATION
Clary P. Foote, a Harriman, Tenn., physician who owned a power plant there, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on June 7 for violating the Clean Water Act. Foote will spend 12 months in home confinement, perform 300 hours of community service, pay a $10,000 fine, publish an apology in the Knoxville and Roan County, Tenn., newspapers and pay $74,956.64 to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Valley Authority Police and Southern Environment Enforcement Training Inc., a company that will provide environmental training within the community. The offense occurred in February 1999 shortly after the defendant purchased the power plant at the former Harriman Power and Paper Mill. The site had a storage tank that contained approximately 500,000 gallons of a mixture of pulp waste known as "black liquor" and water. The defendant and an employee went to the tank during a rainstorm on Feb. 14, 1999, and opened a valve which allowed the black liquor contents of the tank to flow into a pond that emptied into the Emory River. The contents had a high chemical oxygen demand level which had a negative impact on vegetation and aquatic life in the river. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and members of the East Tennessee Environmental Crimes Task Force. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Greenville, Tenn.
OWNER OF FORMER OREGON SHIP REPAIR COMPANY GIVEN JAIL TERM
Guy O. Hoy, III, the owner of Hoy's Marine, a Newport, Ore., ship repair facility that ceased doing business in May 2000, was sentenced on June 4 to four months in prison for violating the Clean Water Act. Hoy also was ordered to subsequently serve four months of home detention, perform 40 hours of environmental community service and pay $70,000 restitution and $27,000 in state fines. Hoy's company renovated and painted ships by raising them out of the Yaquina River and pressure washing and sand blasting the hulls. Twice previously fined and repeatedly warned since 1996 by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to cease the practice, Hoy continued to allow sandblast grit and antifoulant marine paint to be discharged into the Yaquina River. Sandblasting residue and antifoulant marine paint can contain heavy metals, which can harm fish and aquatic life. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Oregon State Police and the Oregon DEQ. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Eugene, Ore.
SHIPS' CAPTAIN, CHIEF ENGINEERS PLEAD GUILTY TO ALASKA VIOLATIONS
Three defendants pleaded guilty to violations resulting from illegal activities that stemmed from the dumping of oil and sludge into ocean waters in and around Alaska. Doo Hyun Kim, captain of the Motor Vessel Khana, pleaded guilty on June 12 to obstruction of justice; In Ho Kim, chief engineer of the Khana, pleaded guilty on May 31 to making false records and witness tampering; and Je Yong Lee, chief engineer on the Motor Vessel Soho, pleaded guilty on May 28 to making false records, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. The Khana and Soho were registered in Panama and were used for the shipment of frozen seafood to Asia. In February, the U.S. Coast Guard detained the vessels in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, to inspect them for possible violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. During Coast Guard on-board inspections, inspectors found oil laden bypass hoses believed to be used to circumvent the ships' oil water separators. Oil water separators are required ship pollution control devices that prevent oil discharges, which can harm fish and other aquatic life. The defendants interfered with the investigation by telling crew members to lie to investigators about the bypass hoses and by maintaining false oil record books. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
ALASKA MAN PLEADS TO CONCEALING ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME Gary Hitchings, an officer and director of Technic Services Inc., an Alaska asbestos abatement contracting company, pleaded guilty on May 31 to misprison (illegal concealment) of a felony by failing to report a violation of the Clean Water Act. The violation involved the removal of asbestos from the Alaska Pulp Corp. in Sitka, Alaska. Hitchings was responsible for assuring that all asbestos containing material at the facility was properly removed in accordance with environmental rules and regulations. During the removal, the defendant learned that slushy waste containing asbestos abatement waste was allowed to enter a drain system at the facility and flow directly into Silver Bay in violation of the Clean Water Act. However, Hitchings concealed the violation. Discharging contaminated slurry into surface waters can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the EPA Office of Air Quality, EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and the Alaska Department of Labor. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage.
Luke C. Hester email@example.com
STOP SALE ORDER ISSUED TO MISSOURI DISINFECTANT COMPANYOn June 7, EPA ordered Wexford Labs, of Kirkwood, Mo., to immediately stop selling and distributing three ineffective antimicrobial disinfectant products. The products are: Wex-Cide Concentrated Germicidal Detergent (EPA Reg. No. 34810-8); Phenex-Cel Concentrated Germicidal Detergent (EPA Reg. No. 34810-16) and Ready-To-Use Wex-Cide Germicidal Detergent (EPA Reg. No. 34810-21). In addition, EPA is requesting that Wexford voluntarily recall all quantities of these products on sale since July 2001 from its distributors and their customers. Selling or distributing ineffective pesticides is prohibited under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which authorizes EPA to issue orders stopping the sale of ineffective products. EPA has an efficacy testing program for tuberculocides and hospital disinfectant products to ensure that products marketed in commerce to protect public health work as claimed. Disinfectant products play an important role in infection control. Health care providers, consumers and others rely on EPA's registration of these products as evidence that they work as claimed on the label. Because Wexford's products are ineffective tuberculocidal disinfectants, they may pose a potential public health threat, if used.
FLORIDA MAN, VIRGINIA REAL ESTATE FIRM PLEAD GUILTY
David Stephens Klein of Heathrow, Fla., and the Davold Real Estate Partnership of Staunton, Va., pleaded guilty on May 28 to violating the Clean Air Act in Staunton. Klein pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of asbestos-containing material from the Masonic Building and Davold pleaded guilty to illegally removing asbestos at the Towne Center. Klein, a medical doctor who previously ran clinics in the Shenandoah Valley, operated buildings in Staunton owned by the Davold Real Estate Partnership, a property management company. Workers untrained in the proper removal of asbestos were used to remove asbestos from pipes and boilers and were not provided with property safety equipment. The asbestos was dumped at the Augusta County landfill and various other sites in and around Staunton. Failure to use appropriate safety equipment and properly remove and dispose of asbestos can lead to the inhalation of asbestos fibers which is a cause of lung cancer, a lung disease known as "asbestosis", and mesothelioma which is a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities. When sentenced, Klein faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine and Davold a fine of up to $500,000. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Staunton Police Department with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and EPA Region III. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Charlottesville and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
SHIP'S CHIEF ENGINEER PLEADS GUILTY TO OIL POLLUTION IN ALASKA WATERS
Je Yong Lee, Chief Engineer of the motor vessel Soho (M/V Soho) pleaded guilty on May 28 to keeping and presenting a false oil record book, obstructing a federal investigation and telling crew members to lie to a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska. The M/V Soho is a Panamanian flagged freighter that is owned by a Korean company named Oswego Limited. It carries seafood to Asia. Lee was the vessel's chief engineer in charge of engine room operations. During a Coast Guard inspection in February, inspectors found hose which they suspected was used to bypass the ship's oil water separator, a pollution control device that limits the amount of oil a ship discharges into the ocean. Lee admitted in his plea that he knowingly recorded false information in the ship's oil record book, thus failing to indicate that the bypass hose was used to directly discharge oil-contaminated bilge water and oily sludge into the ocean during the ship's passage from Japan to Alaska. In addition, Lee admitted that he instructed engine room crew members to lie to a federal grand jury about the use of the bypass hose. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Lee faces a maximum sentence of up to 33-months in prison. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Anchorage and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
TWO MEN SENTENCED IN LAS VEGAS FOR ILLEGAL WASTE DISCHARGE
Gene Moran and John Gold, operators of Silver State Plating in Las Vegas, Nev., were sentenced on May 28 for various federal violations arising from the illegal discharge of electroplating wastes containing excessive levels of zinc, chromium, copper, lead and nickel into sewers operated by the Clark County Sanitation District. Moran, who was previously convicted of illegally discharging plating wastes into Las Vegas sewers, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. Gold, who pleaded guilty to illegally discharging wastes into sewers, intentionally discharging similar wastes, conspiring to illegally dispose of plating wastes and making false statements to conceal illegal discharges, was also sentenced to 12 months in prison. Discharging electroplating wastes into sewers can cause sewage treatment equipment to fail and can lead to untreated sewage being discharged to surface waters, creating a risk to humans who use the waters for recreation and to aquatic and animal life. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center, the Clark County Sanitation District and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
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