Federal prosecutors have said recently that one man has been sentenced to a lengthy 10 months in prison, a conviction that was led by heavy evidence, for improper hazardous waste storage. The man from Atlanta, Georgia owns a waste hauling business and was under investigation. Other cases like this have come about in recent years due to the strict enforcement of environmental safety and protection laws.
42-year-old Robert Lewis was sentenced by a federal judge in Macon this week. Lewis is the owner of Simple Solutions Inc. and was found transporting hazardous waste from a local manufacturing plant for disposal at a facility between 2007 and 2008. Investigators found more than four dozen 55-gallon tubs and more than 275-gallon barrels or containers of waste material at a self-storage facility, which Lewis had rented. The man was also found storing other contaminants such as cyanide, in Rex and Albany, Georgia.
A similar incident happened not long ago when a man with a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) contract worked to clean meth labs, but was found storing the waste from cleanup jobs illegally. Robert Wayne Webb was given a somewhat lengthy sentence of one year and one day in prison by Judge Edward Lodge of the United States District Court of Idaho for leading an operation in illegal management of the hazardous waste. He was charged for knowingly storing the compounds without permit at a storage facility in Rathdrum, Idaho.
Webb also was fined over $70,000 in restitution, sentenced to three additional years of supervised release, perform 120 hours community service, and forced to pay $200 in special fees. Webb pleaded guilty in 2008 to two counts of violating what is known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
The case came about after an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation of Webb’s corporation, Alliance Environmental Inc., which performed methamphetamine laboratory cleanups under various DEA contracts. Webb failed to store the waste that accumulated in his possession. The DEA specifically alerted the EPA after an audit.
Webb, similar to Lewis, violated federal law and public trust when he disregarded the safety of public health. Meth labs are known to be incredibly dangerous, and the material that is usually found at these sites are dangerous, which requires an honest business to handle.
In August 2013, two more men were arrested for illegally transporting and storing hazardous waste in Pennsylvania. Agents from the Attorney General’s department identified the two men as Neal Connelly, and Daniel Wert who not only stored, but transported over a 50-gallon drum of hazardous waste at Wert’s home in the Newberry Township. The material was tested and found to contain a high level of tetrachloroethylene, benzene, and/or lead. Connelly was convicted on 8 counts of unlawful conduct under the Solid Waste Management Act, and one count of conspiracy. Wert was charged with five counts of unlawful conduct and one count of conspiracy.
Unlawful transportation of hazardous waste, or storage, can lead to a lengthy prison sentence and large fines, as these men came to find out. The Department of Transportation website of the Inspector General clearly states that the transportation of hazardous material is being enforced under current federal laws.
By Lindsey Alexander