Company President Jailed for Hazardous Waste Violations

October 15, 2018
Brian Scott Miller, the President of Executive Air Terminal, Inc., was sentenced yesterday to sixty days of incarceration and was fined $5000, and Executive Air Terminal, Inc. was fined $20,000 and placed on corporate probation for three years, announced
United States Attorney Mike Stuart.    Executive Air provided fueling and other services for private and commercial airplanes at Yeager Airport in Charleston. Miller was the owner and president of Executive Air.   On May 3, 2018, both Mr. Miller individually and Executive Air as a corporation pled guilty to the felony offense of Aiding and Abetting the Storage of Hazardous Waste without a Permit.  After the guilty pleas, Yeager Airport terminated the lease with Executive Air as the fixed base operator for Yeager Airport.  Stuart praised the work of the EPA, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and the Yeager Airport Police Department.
“We will protect the environment by enforcing federal environmental laws,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “Proper disposal of hazardous waste ensures our environment and the public are protected. Business owners have a responsibility to comply with environmental laws and regulations governing hazardous waste disposal.  Violators will be held accountable.”
“By refusing to comply with laws that ensure the safe handling and storage of hazardous waste, the defendant put the unsuspecting public at serious risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in West Virginia. “Special agents found numerous containers filled with hazardous waste materials including oil, aviation gas and jet fuel. EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting local communities by holding accountable those who disregard the harm they pose to public health and the environment.”
Executive Air’s business of fueling and servicing planes generated hazardous waste.  The waste was stored in unlabeled 55-gallon drums that were kept on site.   By September of 2015, Executive Air had accumulated 37 drums of waste fluid, of which 27 drums were hazardous under federal law.  The 27 drums of hazardous waste included a mix of oil, aviation gas, and jet fuel, and each drum was hazardous because it was either ignitable, toxic, or both.   Executive Air did not have the federally required permit to store such a large quantity of hazardous waste.   Miller previously admitted that he knew about the drums of waste material at Executive Air.  In his plea agreement, Miller admitted that he directed that employees of Executive Air to dispose of the waste drums in September of 2015.  Instead of hiring a licensed hazardous waste hauler, the employees moved the drums in the middle of the night to a farm outside Charleston, West Virginia.  The drums were further moved to a building in Charleston where they were discovered by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division in November 2015.  Once discovered, the drums were then sent to a licensed hazardous waste disposal facility for proper disposal.
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New Electronic General Permit in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) launched an electronic permit system to provide landowners a more efficient way to request permit registrations for new projects that affect wetlands and waterways and get a faster response from DEP.
“As part of Governor Wolf’s commitment to improve the permitting process, DEP is committed to improving customer service by employing the best technologies we can, while also understanding the needs of the permit applicants,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We’ve launched this new system at the request of those who want the convenience and speed of a web-based permit process.”
A variety of projects are covered by Chapter 105 Wetland and Waterway Obstruction and Encroachment General Permits, including stream crossings, small docks and boat ramps, streambank rehabilitation or protection, gravel bar removal, intake and outfall structures, agricultural crossings and ramps, minor road crossings, agricultural activities, and fish habitat enhancement structures.
DEP processes at least 2,500 Chapter 105 registration requests for business, municipal, and individual landowners each year. The Chapter 105 e-permit, which is accessed through DEP GreenPort (registration is required for first-time users), will save time for applicants and department reviewers, include online permit payment, reduce the expense of printing complex design drawings, and make information available in real-time to the public, for increased transparency. DEP will also continue to accept paper registrations to accommodate applicants whose only option is a paper form.
The Chapter 105 e-permit is the latest electronic tool in DEP’s continuing efforts to use technology solutions to improve customer service, reduce paper-driven processes, and further protect the environment. Stakeholders can now use online tools to file permit applications for surface coal mining, storage tank renewals, and radiation protection renewal, and other regulated activities. In addition, DEP has developed online processes to digitize grants systems, modernize facility inspection processes, and archive content for access by both staff and the public.
As DEP continues to seek ways to modernize and increase efficiency, the agency encourages applicants to use the Chapter 105 e-permit and provide feedback on it. 
“We value the community’s insights on using the e-permit. They’ll be very helpful as we work to perfect a tool that enables improved service, efficiency, response time, and transparency,” said McDonnell.
First International E-Waste Day
The very first International E-Waste Day was held on October 13 to promote the correct disposal of electrical and electronic equipment throughout the world.
International E-Waste Day has been developed by the WEEE Forum, an international association of e-waste collection schemes, and 26 of its members and involves around 40 different organizations in 20 different countries worldwide. It is being used to raise the public profile of e-waste and encourage consumers to correctly dispose of their e-waste with the resulting increase in re-use and recycling rates on the day itself and into the future.
It is estimated that 50 million tons of e-waste will be generated globally in 2018. Half of this is personal devices such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs, with the remainder being larger household appliances and heating and cooling equipment.
Only 20% of global e-waste is recycled each year, which means that 40 million tons of e-waste per annum is either placed in landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way and this is despite 66% of the world’s population being covered by e-waste legislation. This results in the huge loss of valuable and critical raw materials from the supply chain and causes serious health, environmental and societal issues through illegal shipments of waste to developing countries.
Initiatives being undertaken by participant organizations are meant to increase consumers’ knowledge about e-waste and how to dispose of it correctly. These are many and diverse and include conferences, events, school and city collections, promotions in stores and recycling centres and an online guide for proper e-waste disposal. All of these will be promoted locally on and around the International E-waste Day.
Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, “This is an important and timely initiative because e-waste continues to increase in volume and the materials it contains are essential for manufacturing new products and satisfying consumer demand for e-products.”
He continued, “Even in the EU, which leads the world in e-waste recycling, only 35% of e-waste is officially reported as properly collected and recycled. Awareness raising initiatives impacting positively on collection rates will not only help member countries achieving the WEEE Directive’s targets but also help Europe in developing the Circular Economy.”
Pascal Leroy, Secretary General of the WEEE Forum, added, “Consumers are key to better management of e-waste and we have high aspirations that this campaign can have a huge impact on their habits. For example, in each household in Belgium there are an average of 79 electrical items as well as 47 lamps, which makes getting e-waste out of homes and businesses and into re-use and recycling plants a critical part of the challenge.”
Environmental Company Guilty of Improper Disposal of Toxic Chemicals
United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced that Luminaire Environmental and Technologies, Inc., pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud for the improper disposal of toxic waste. Co-defendants John D. Miller Jr., 61, and Joseph V. Miller, 58, previously entered guilty pleas for their roles in the fraud scheme.
“Luminaire defrauded its customers and, in doing so, exposed the community to the toxic chemicals they had been paid to safely destroy. The United States will vigorously pursue those who steal and pollute for their own profit,” said U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald.
“The laws surrounding the safe management of PCBs exist to protect human health and the environment,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Minnesota. “Instead of complying with those laws, the defendants defrauded their customers and put workers and the public at risk by removing PCB labels and selling PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts to scrap metal recyclers. EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to working aggressively to prevent these types of flagrant and dangerous violations.”
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, Luminaire Environmental and Technologies, Inc. provided recycling and waste disposal services to customers. Among other services, Luminaire offered to pick up customers’ fluorescent light ballasts containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transport the PCB-containing ballasts to the Luminaire facility located in Plymouth, Minnesota, and remove and dispose of all the PCBs in accordance with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In exchange, Luminaire charged customers a fee of approximately $0.35 per pound of PCB lighting ballasts plus transportation costs. Because the PCBs contained in the ballasts are considered a toxic chemical, regulations promulgated by the EPA mandate special procedures and documentation for the transportation and disposal of PCB waste.
According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, between 2010 until 2015, John Miller, owner of Luminaire, and other Luminaire employees falsely represented to customers that Luminaire would properly transport and dispose of customers’ toxic chemicals. Instead, after picking up loads of PCB-ballasts from customers, John Miller instructed Luminaire employees to remove warning labels from the containers holding the PCB-ballasts, and then sell the PCB-ballasts as scrap metal to scrap yards and metal recycling facilities. In order to conceal the fact that the PCB-ballasts had not been received and processed at Luminaire’s facility, John Miller directed Luminaire employees, including JOSEPH MILLER, to falsely certify on shipping manifests that the PCB-ballasts had arrived at Luminaire’s facility. At John Miller’s direction, Luminaire employees also sent copies of the falsified shipping documentation by mail to customers and to certain state environmental agencies. In addition, John Miller instructed Luminaire employees to prepare and deliver falsified invoices to customers who, in turn, made payments to Luminaire. As a result of the scheme, Luminaire fraudulently collected more than $1,000,000 in fees and additional profits.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the EPA and the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Protection.
Whole Foods to Pay $1.6 Million for Hazardous Waste Breach
San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott announced that, as the result of a lawsuit filed by San Diego and 21 other prosecuting agencies, Whole Foods and two affiliates are required to label and store hazardous materials to protect employees and customers from exposure, to properly track and document hazardous waste, and to dispose of it only at authorized facilities.
Additionally, the companies will pay more than $1.4 million in civil penalties and legal costs, as well as more than $200,000 toward supplemental environmental projects and the prosecution of similar crimes. San Diego will receive approximately $113,000 in civil penalties, including more than $16,000 to support the work of the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health.
The judgment by Yolo County Judge Thomas E. Warriner covers Whole Foods Market California Inc., Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets Inc., and WFM-WO Inc. The court found that the companies mishandled and illegally disposed of hazardous waste at their California store locations. Whole Foods stores in Hillcrest and UTC were implicated in the complaint.
Over a five-year period, Whole Foods disposed of hazardous materials, such as ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials, at each of its facilities. Failure to properly handle and dispose of these items violated the California Health and Safety Code. This code, which includes the Hazardous Waste Control Law, provides a comprehensive framework regulating the generation, handling, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste. This law was established to protect public health and the environment.
“California has some of the most stringent environmental protection laws in the nation, and for good reason,” said City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. “Companies that handle hazardous waste owe it to their customers, employees, and communities to dispose of this material safely and lawfully. My office works to ensure that all corporations, regardless of size or status, are accountable for their conduct.”
The People of the State of California were represented by Deputy City Attorney Michael Hudson of the San Diego City Attorney’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Unit and 21 other prosecuting agencies throughout the state.
The San Diego City Attorney’s ACE Unit pursues public interest causes of action on behalf of the People of the State of California under the Unfair Competition Law, including consumer privacy, predatory lending, as well as unsafe and dangerous products. The Unit also handles complex litigation matters and serious environmental violations and prosecutes wage theft cases under state law and City ordinance.
He Burned Asbestos Containing Material in His House
Lloyd Robl, also known as Lloyd Schmotter, 48, New Richmond, Wisconsin, is charged in a 17-count indictment with wire fraud, environmental crimes, and obstruction of justice.  The indictment alleges that Robl, who operated an asbestos abatement business under the name AAS Incorporated (AAS) in New Richmond, devised a scheme to defraud AAS customers beginning in 2011 and continuing until 2016.  The indictment alleges that Robl falsely advertised that he was licensed to do asbestos abatement in Minnesota and Wisconsin, provided falsified insurance documents and asbestos abatement licenses to AAS clients, and failed to follow proper procedures for safely removing and disposing of asbestos.
The indictment charges Robl with 14 counts of wire fraud in relation to this alleged scheme.  The indictment also charges that from 2013 to 2016, Robl knowingly released into the air a hazardous air pollutant by burning asbestos-containing material at his home in New Richmond, in violation of the Clean Air Act.  The indictment also charges Robl with removing insulation containing asbestos from a building in St. Paul, Minnesota, without possessing proper certification from the State of Minnesota to do so, in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and transporting the asbestos-containing material to his home in New Richmond where he burned it.  Finally, the indictment charges him with concealing AAS business records during a federal grand jury investigation.
If convicted, Robl faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each of the 14 wire fraud charges, 15 years on the Clean Air Act violation, one year on the Toxic Substances Control Act violation, and 20 years on the obstruction of justice charge.
The charges against Robl are the result of an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office; and New Richmond Police Department.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.
She Burned Trash on Her Property
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Rhonda Lynn Hulseman $3,944 for an illegal burn at her Pleasant Creek Road property in Rogue River. 
The burn pile was about 30 cubic yards and included carpet, a car muffler, a crock pot, various metal parts, Styrofoam, furniture, plastic, metal food cans, wet garbage and household trash. The Evans Valley Fire District No. 6 responded to the fire on May 29, 2017. 
Open burning is prohibited in Oregon because such burning poses a threat to the environment and human health, particularly for children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions. When burned such materials can emit a dense smoke and noxious odors. 
$9,655 Fine for Skipping Stormwater Monitoring
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Crabtree Rock Co. $9,655 for failing to perform stormwater monitoring at its facility off Neiderberger Road in Dundee, OR. 
The company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 1200-A Permit requires it to take samples to measure various pollutants four times a year. The company is also required to submit to DEQ or the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries a Discharge Monitoring Report by July 31 each year that shows sampling results for the previous monitoring year. 

The company failed to conduct sampling during the last half of 2013-2014 and for the entire 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 monitoring years. 
Monitoring can reveal the presence of harmful levels of pollutants that pose a threat to waters of the state. Monitoring also allows permittees and DEQ to gauge the effectiveness of stormwater controls and practices aimed at reducing stormwater runoff. 
Painters Guilty of Dumping Lead Paint into Storm Drain
San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott successfully prosecuted a Riverside County-based painting company that contaminated the city’s storm water system by power washing painted curbs and allowing toxic lead paint chips to flow into storm drains.
The CEO and two employees of Ochoa Striping Services, Inc., were charged with illegally disposing of hazardous waste at a job site. The three defendants pled guilty and were ordered to pay more than $12,000 in fines and restitution, complete community work service, and serve three years of probation.
Ochoa Striping Services, Inc. was contracted to sandblast paint from curbs in a Del Cerro residential community. This method of paint removal would have allowed the workers to safely clean up and dispose of the hazardous material.
Instead, the painters illegally hooked up their equipment to a city fire hydrant, using municipal water to power wash the curb and releasing a flow of toxic paint chips into the street, gutter, and storm drain.
A Transportation and Storm Water Division employee, investigating a citizen complaint, determined the painters had improperly disposed of potentially hazardous material and told them to take immediate corrective actions. Despite the warning, the painters returned the next day and continued their work in the same manner. Paint samples were taken and tested, confirming the presence of lead in the paint.
“Businesses that recklessly engage in illegal dumping schemes endanger public health and our ocean ecology,” said San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. “In this case, the business released lead paint chips into our storm drain system, which flows into the ocean. This is an inexcusable assault on the health and safety of those who frequent our beautiful beaches, particularly children who are susceptible to lead poisoning. We will hold accountable anyone who breaks laws that protect our environment or who puts our children at risk.”
Under the plea agreement reached with the City Attorney’s Office, defendant Luis Ochoa Ramirez, CEO of Ochoa Striping Services, will pay more than $10,000 in fines and restitution and perform eighty hours of volunteer work service through a nonprofit organization involved in ocean and/or bay cleanup within the City of San Diego.
Dumping Fats, Oils, and Grease Down the Drain Can Harm the Environment
Next time you’re cleaning up after dinner, pay attention to what’s going down the drain. Sure, we all know not to dump bacon grease. But there are other foods, like salad dressing, butter, and sour cream, that can also cause serious plumbing problems and harm the environment.
Fats, oils, and grease – or FOG – is any food waste that should not go down the drain. This includes cooking oil, pan drippings, sauces, lard, shortening, margarine, gravy, mayonnaise, and others.
Even non-greasy food scraps can clog your home’s wastewater lines, so avoid putting food of any kind down your drain. In fact, vegetable waste should be thrown in your compost bin.
This buildup restricts the flow in pipes and can cause untreated wastewater to back up into homes and businesses, resulting in high costs for cleanup and restoration. In extreme cases, manholes can overflow in neighborhoods and contaminate local waters, including drinking water.
Communities spend billions of dollars every year unclogging or replacing blocked pipes, repairing pump stations, and cleaning up costly and illegal wastewater spills. This can affect local wastewater rates. Keeping food waste out of the sewer system helps everyone.
To learn more, visit Pledge to do your part to Take Care of Texas, and they’ll mail you a Texas State Parks: Official Guide.
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