Marine Shale Processors (“MSP”) incinerated hazardous wastes in a 275 foot rotary kiln from1985 to 1996. In June 1990, the United States filed an action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) and the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to enjoin MSP’s un-permitted operations and recover civil penalties. The United States amended its complaint, adding claims under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The State of Louisiana (“State”) joined in the case as co-plaintiff.
MSP denied the allegations of the complaint, asserting that MSP operated a recycling facility, and that the residual material was subject to an exemption from RCRA Subtitle C regulation for recyclable materials.
After a series of lengthy trials in 1994, the Court declared a mistrial on the United States’ RCRA claim for un-permitted operation of an incinerator after the jury was unable to answer whether MSP was engaged in “legitimate”or “sham recycling. The Court awarded the United States and the State civil penalties against MSP totaling $8 million for violations of the CAA, CWA, and RCRA.
On appeal in 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed $4 million of the civil penalty award to the government, but remanded the remaining $4 million of the award for further district court proceedings. Later that year, Marine Shale terminated operations at its facility. During this same period, Jack Kent, the owner of MSP, was indicted and tried, but found not guilty of bribing the judge who initially was assigned to the case.
In 2006, the Court approved a settlement between the governments, MSP, and Mr. Kent whereby the Court entered:
- a $6.2 million judgment for penalties in favor of the United States and the State against MSP; and
- a separate $7 million in proceeds from MSP were transferred to the State which the State has used for the closure and remediation of the MSP facility.
MSP and Mr. Kent also were prohibited from ever owning or managing any business involved in waste management or recycling.