Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Circuit Board Maker Charged; Contractor Convicted; E15 Pump Regulations Meeting

by | Nov 15, 2010

 Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news


Former Circuit Board Manufacturer Faces Hazardous Waste Charges

A former circuit board manufacturer in Monticello, Iowa was charged last week in federal court for storing hazardous waste without a permit and discharging that waste into Kitty Creek, Trading Markets reports.

Gene Riddle and his former company Riddle Inc. were charged with storage of hazardous waste without a permit and negligent violation of the Clean Water Act, according to a criminal complaint filed Nov. 9 in U.S. District Court.

Riddle manufactured printed circuit boards for electronic devices from 1972 to 1991, using a variety chemicals in its manufacturing process, including raw copper sulfate, copper with ferric sulfate, ferric sulfate, sulfuric acid with alcohol, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lead tin, formaldehyde, potassium cyanide and several fuming acids, according to the complaint.

The chemicals were stored in a deteriorating building located about 400 feet from Kitty Creek, which flows into the Maquoketa River, EPA alleged in the complaint.

Neither Riddle nor the company had a permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency or the state of Iowa to store these chemicals.

Kitty Creek flooded in 1993, 2002 and 2009, and each time it rose and entered Riddle’s storage building, according to allegations in the complaint. In 2009, the flood reached a height of at least three feet in the building, moving drums and containers of the chemicals around in the building.

In September 2009, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported that it found more than 200 drums of suspected hazardous waste containing corrosives, acids, oxidizers and other unknown contaminants stored at the former Riddle plant.

EPA then took samples in December 2009 of the drums and performed testing, finding that nine samples tested were either ignitable, corrosive and/or toxic hazardous waste.

According to the complaint, EPA determined Riddle was storing about 3,776 gallons of hazardous waste at its former facility. 

EPA began cleanup at the Riddle site last July and completed the work in August, according to fact sheet published by EPA Region 7.


Contractor Convicted of Asbestos and Clean Air Violations

A Rochester, NY contractor has been convicted of  improper removal of asbestos and violating the Clean Air Act following a three-week jury trial and awaits sentencing, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.

The jury acquitted another defendant, Francis Rowe Jr., of violations of the Clean Air Act.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, asbestos contractor Keith Gordon-Smith and his company Gordon-Smith Contracting, were convicted of multiple counts of improper removal of asbestos and violating the Clean Air Act in connection with the demolition of the former Genesee Hospital.
Authorities say that while the asbestos was being removed during the partial demolition of a building, workers were repeatedly exposed to asbestos, and officials say the workers testified that they were not wearing any masks or protective clothing.

The U.S. Attorney also says Gordon-Smith repeatedly lied to an OSHA inspector who came to the work site after a complaint by the workers.

The jury concluded Gordon-Smith ordered workers to tear out copper pipes and scrap metal from the West Wing building, a six-story structure that contained more than 70,000 square feet of asbestos. And when they removed the pipes, ceiling tiles and scrap metal, workers were exposed to asbestos which they told jurors was falling on them “like snow.”

The court found Gordon-Smith also failed to properly remove all the asbestos in the West Wing once formal abatement began and left massive quantities of asbestos in the building, which was scheduled to be demolished.

Rowe, the project manager for Gordon-Smith Contracting Inc., was accused of directing workers to illegally remove and dispose of asbestos. Rowe’s attorney, James Napier, said the jury found that Rowe did not commit the crimes.

In 2007, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Gordon-Smith for ten violations of asbestos safety regulations. The combined fines for the citations totaled $99,925. 

Gordon-Smith challenged OSHA’s allegations, arguing that they were based almost entirely on hearsay.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. said in a statement that he was pleased with the convictions.

“This verdict is a tremendous victory not only for the citizens of Rochester but also the workers who were exposed to the hazardous materials that were both illegally and improperly removed,” said Hochul. “This case sends a strong message that if you attempt to profit by cutting corners you will be prosecuted.”

Sentencing is set for Feb. 25, 2011 before U.S. District Court Judge Charles J. Siragusa.

U.S. EPA hosts public hearing in Chicago on E15 pump label regulation
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing tomorrow in Chicago on a regulation to help ensure that E15 (gasoline containing greater than 10 percent by volume ethanol up to 15 percent) is only used in approved motor vehicles.

EPA has proposed regulations to help consumers easily identify E15 when filling up at the pump. E15 fuel can be used for model year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks.

The regulation includes E15 pump labeling requirements and requires the fuel industry to specify the ethanol content of gasoline sold to retailers. EPA also proposed a quarterly survey of retail stations to help ensure that gas pumps are properly labeled.

The Agency is holding the hearing to gain public input on the pump label regulation.

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or until everyone has had a chance to speak
Date: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Place: Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago, 163 East Walton Place

Listen to the Hearings over the Phone
150 lines will be available for those who wish to listen to the hearings, but are unable to attend in person. Note: you will not be able to present testimony over the phone. When each of the above hearings is occurring, you may call the following toll-free number: 1-866-299-3188. At the prompt, enter conference code 7342144423 followed by the # sign.

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