Multiple employees and executives of a California wastewater company now face criminal sentences for a fraud scheme that involved knowing violations of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA).
Most recently, the company’s VP of Oil and Gas Sales was ordered to serve 4 months in jail and 3 years probation
and pay a $5,000 fine for his role in a conspiracy to improperly dispose of hazardous waste from the company’s site in San Paula, CA.
The criminal penalties stem from an investigation by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Ventura County DA’s office following a November 2014 cargo tank explosion that released 1,000 gallons of hazardous chemicals and resulted in injuries, hospitalizations, and mandatory evacuation and shelter-in-place orders issued to the community.
According to the initial investigation, the company “stored hazardous materials… in excess of amounts permitted in its hazardous materials and wastes inventory.”
Shipping Undeclared Hazardous Materials and Wastes
The company sidestepped inspectors by shipping undeclared hazardous materials off site to a lot leased by company employees when necessary to avoid suspicion. On the day of the explosion, company employees were vacuuming chemicals from 20 different unlabeled totes into the cargo tank. In addition to the undeclared hazmat shipments, the company disposed of hazardous wastes via a city wastewater pipeline and a non-permitted landfill.
In total, eleven defendants were indicted following the cargo tank explosion for charges including conspiracy to dispose of hazardous waste, impeding enforcement, handling hazardous waste with reckless disregard and without information, forging documents, air pollution crimes, and employee tampering.
Personnel facing criminal convictions related to fraud and to the non-compliant storage and transport of hazardous materials and hazardous waste in this case now include:
- CEO (3 years probation, $350,000 fine)
- VP of Oil and Gas Sales (4 months incarceration, 3 years probation)
- Transportation Manager (7 months incarceration, 3 years probation)
- Shift Supervisor (7 months incarceration, 3 years probation)
Nationwide Hazmat and RCRA Hazardous Waste Training
Keep your hazmat shipments in compliance with the latest 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code rules to prevent rejected shipments, incidents in transit, liability, and DOT fines now over $78K per day, per violation.
Learn the latest EPA RCRA hazardous waste standards that impact your facility, including major changes under the Generator Improvements Rule—in effect now!
Be ready when your state adopts new container labeling rules, expanded contingency planning requirements, more reporting, new reliefs, and more.