Owner of pavement painting business sentenced in Alaska for illegally disposing hazardous waste
Anchorage, Alaska - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler and Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division Ignacia S. Moreno announced that the former owner of a road and parking lot painting and striping business in Anchorage, Alaska, was sentenced today for illegally disposing of over 200,000 pounds of highly flammable hazardous waste in Anchorage, Alaska,
William Duran Vizzerra, Jr., 43, was sentenced by Chief Judge Ralph R. Beistline to 15 months incarceration. In addition, the court ordered Vizzerra to pay $380,000 in restitution to two victims.
Vizzerra pled guilty on August 17, 2012 in U.S. District Court in the District of Alaska. Vizzerra was the president, director and part-owner of Precision Pavement Markings Inc. (PPMI), a road and parking lot painting and striping business that operated out of a storage lot in Anchorage from 2006 through 2009. Vizzerra used the storage lot to store hazardous waste, including methyl methacrylate paint and toluene that was used to flush the paint lines, nozzles and sprayers used in his business. Vizzerra ordered employees to dispose of the waste at a local landfill but the employees were turned away because the waste was hazardous. Vizzerra was also told by an environmental services company that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to properly dispose of the hazardous waste. On approximately November 1, 2009, Vizzerra illegally abandoned approximately 321 55-gallon drums, 179 five-gallon pails and two 200-gallon totes of hazardous waste to avoid the costs of proper disposal. Vizzerra abandoned a total of 204,750 pounds of hazardous waste, all of which was determined to be flammable. The landowners where Vizerra abandoned the hazardous waste incurred almost $400,000 in clean-up costs.
In November 2010, a citizen reported the abandoned drums to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An investigation led by EPA Criminal Investigation Division agents revealed several hundred 55-gallon drums and smaller containers at the storage lot, some of which were stacked two-high on a trailer and some of which were stored directly on the ground. Many of the drums were marked “waste” or held hazardous markings, such as “flammable” or “flammable liquid.” Many were rusted and in decrepit condition or bulging. The investigation revealed that some of the drums were from a prior pavement business of Vizzerra’s that had dissolved several years earlier.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, hazardous waste, due to its dangerous qualities, may only be disposed of at a licensed treatment, storage or disposal facility. The storage lot Vizzerra used was neither equipped nor permitted for the disposal of hazardous waste. Yet, knowing this, Vizzerra illegally abandoned and disposed of the waste at the lot, which cost the land owner and lease holder $380,000 in clean-up, disposal, and legal fees.
The investigation was conducted by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, and the Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 in Seattle.