WASHINGTON – Dennis Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty today to criminal environmental crimes related to the operation of his company, North American Waste Assistance, LLC (NAWA), also located in El Paso. Under the plea agreement, entered in federal district court for the Western District of Texas, Rodriguez admitted to making a material false statement or representations in a manifest used to transport hazardous waste and to two counts of transporting hazardous waste to a facility that did not have a permit issued pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Both Rodriguez and his company were indicted in November 2005 for violations related to the handling and transportation of hazardous waste. According to the indictment, Rodriguez and NAWA were hired to dispose of over of 155 gallon drums of construction-related waste. Approximately 75 of the drums contained expired petroleum-based concrete curing compound, which is an ignitable hazardous waste when disposal becomes necessary.
The indictment alleged that on or about March 27, 2002, Rodriguez and NAWA transported the drums using several Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests that stated that the drums contained “Non-RCRA, Non-Regulated” waste. Rodriguez then made arrangements to transport the drums, for disposal, to landfills in Avalon, Texas, and Walterboro, S.C. that were not permitted under RCRA to accept hazardous waste. The drums of hazardous waster were then disposed of at unauthorized facilities.
Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a total maximum fine of $250,000 per count.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the EPA, with the assistance of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.