WASHINGTON—William Garvey, the president of HPI Products Inc., a pesticide company based in St. Joseph, Mo., was sentenced today in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., for violations of the Clean Water Act and hazardous waste storage laws related to the company’s pesticide production, the Justice Department announced.
Garvey was sentenced to serve six months in prison, six months of home confinement and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine for having disposed of pesticide waste water down the sewers of the city of St. Joseph. Sentencing for the company was delayed by the court.
Garvey pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2009, to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for disposing of the pesticide waste. The company pleaded guilty on the same day to the same violation of the Clean Water Act as well as a felony violation of the hazardous waste storage laws.
According to court documents, HPI Products maintained warehouses at various locations in St. Joseph where it stored wastes from its operations for years without notifying the proper regulatory agencies. Many of the stored wastes were considered hazardous based upon their ingredients or their characteristics. In addition, HPI employees under Garvey’s supervision disposed of waste waters from the production of pesticides down floor drains and into the city of St. Joseph’s sewers for several years without permit.
"Compliance with our regulatory requirements is essential if we are to protect the environment," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This company and its president obtained an economic advantage over its competitors by violating the law and placing the environment and the public safety at risk. That is unacceptable."
"By routinely violating federal safeguards for nearly 20 years, this company threatened the environment and put at risk the health and safety of the community," said Matt Whitworth, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. "When doing ‘business as usual’ means breaking the law, we will prosecute the offenders and hold them accountable for their actions."
In a related case, Hans Nielsen, vice president of HPI Products, pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of violating federal pesticides law designed to provide proper regulatory oversight and prevent improper storage of pesticides.
HPI began production of pesticides in 1980 at 417 S. 4th Street in St. Joseph. From the beginning HPI would wash its waste waters from pesticide production down floor drains and into the city’s sewers. HPI expanded its operations to 424 S. 8th Street in 1986. It eventually relocated and consolidated its operations to 222 Sylvanie Street in 1990. Its practice of using the city’s sewer system for disposal continued at all locations until EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) inspections in 2007.
In addition the two former HPI facilities and three other locations in St. Joseph were used as warehouses to store pesticides and process waste it didn't dump into sewers. The pesticides and wastes were left for years in unmaintained buildings without the proper notification to state and federal authorities.
When authorities did discover the warehouses many of the containers were found to have leaked or spilled onto the warehouse floors and ground underneath the warehouses. Samples taken at the storage facilities indicated many of the containers held hazardous wastes. The buildings have been cleaned up by HPI under an EPA order. Further investigation of pollution of the soil around the building is pending.
The investigation was conducted by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and MDNR. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.