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Can I Go to Jail for Hazardous Waste Violations?

Posted on 2/8/2021 by Roger Marks

Multiple former executives of a now closed e-scrap (i.e., old or worn-out electronic devices) have now been sentenced to serve prison time for violations of US hazardous waste storage and management regulations.

Last month, an individual who served as EH&S Director, Operations Manager, and Executive VP at the company was sentenced to five months in Federal prison for “conspiracy to store and transport hazardous waste without the required permits and manifests,” according to a DOJ press release.

The company managed glass from broken and crushed cathode ray tubes or CRTs at faciliites in Wisconsin and Tennessee. Because the CRT glass contained lead, it met EPA’s definition of a hazardous waste and was subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

RCRA violations that led to criminal enforcement in this case included:
  • Knowingly storing hazardous waste at unpermitted facilities;
  • Knowing shipping or transporting hazardous waste without a required manifest; and
  • Concealing violations from state regulator and auditors.
Employees tried to conceal the hazardous waste violations by changing the dates on containers and providing fraudulent inventory and shipping records to state regulators. The facilities also hid hazardous waste containers in semi-trailers, behind pallets, and in a warehouse kept secret from inspectors.

The five-month prison sentence is the latest in a string of criminal enforcement actions against the company’s executives. Late last year, the company’s President was sentenced to 18 months in jail for criminal hazardous waste violations and tax-avoidance.

Not Every RCRA Violation is a Crime

Most of the time, violations of the RCRA hazardous waste regulations do not result in prison time. While the consequences for civil violations don’t include prison time, the monetary penalties for these violations increase every year.

In December 2020, EPA increased the maximum penalty for a non-criminal RCRA violation to $76,xxx per day, per violation.

For a look at twenty-five of the most common RCRA hazardous waste management, storage, and recordkeeping violations, download the free guide 25 RCRA Hazardous Waste Mistakes to Avoid.

Keep Your Site in Compliance with RCRA 

Be confident that your employees know the RCRA regulations that impact your operations, and the consequences for noncompliance. Employees who know the regulations behind your workplace policies are more likely to recognize the importance of compliance, and act accordingly.

Lion makes it easy to provide initial and refresher RCRA training for personnel at any experience level. From waste handlers and operators to environmental managers and executives.

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Online Course
Develop the in-depth expertise you need to identify regulated wastes and meet your responsibilites for proper storage, labeling, and safe disposal. 

RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Refresher Online Course
Help satisfy EPA's annual RCRA training mandate with this streamlined course for experienced hazardous waste professionals. 

Storing Hazardous Waste—Ops  
Provide waste handlers and other site personnel with reliable, up-to-date training on their day to day responsibilites under the latest RCRA regulations. 

Tags: fines and penalties, hazardous waste management, RCRA

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