Laurel Man Enters Guilty Plea in Environmental Case
Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced that Patrick Henry Procino, age sixty-six, of Laurel, Delaware, pled guilty today before United States District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews to one count of illegal storage of hazardous waste without a permit, punishable by five years incarceration, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release. As the owner/operator of Procino Plating, Inc., Patrick Procino also entered a guilty plea on behalf of that corporation to one count of violating the Clean Water Act, which subjects the corporation to a maximum fine of $500,000 and five years probation.
According to statements made at the plea hearing and documents filed in court, Patrick Procino owned and operated Procino Plating, Inc. (Athe facility@), at 901 South Market Street in Blades, Delaware. Until the fall of 2007, the facility was utilized for plating and electroplating-related operations.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) defines hazardous waste to include chemical waste which due to its chemical characteristics presents a hazard to human health or the environment. RCRA mandates that producers of hazardous wastes may not store such wastes without first obtaining a storage permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
From December 2007 through May 2010, Patrick Procino stored a tank containing approximately 450 gallons of liquid hazardous waste which originally had been used at the facility on its decorative chrome plating line. This chemical waste had a ph of 0.8 and, therefore, was a corrosive waste under RCRA.
As to Procino Plating, Inc. (Procino Plating), in the course of its operations it produced wastewater, and pursuant to a pretreatment industrial wastewater permit issued by Sussex County, Procino Plating was permitted to discharge its industrial wastewater to the Seaford, Delaware treatment plant which, in turn, discharges into the Nanticoke River. Pursuant to the Clean Water Act, the permit set limits on the amount of various pollutants that Procino Plating could discharge in its industrial waste water to the Seaford treatment plant, including limits on various metals.
On or about June 1, 2009, Sussex County modified Procino Plating=s industrial user permit to specifically prohibit the discharge of waste water generated as a result of electroplating operations, and any waste or bi-products of the electroplating processes then in storage at the facility. This modification was made based upon statements and representations by Procino Plating to Sussex County officials, indicating that the business has ceased electroplating-related operations at the facility. However, from June 2009 through March 2010, Procino Plating processed, through its wastewater treatment plant, stored drums of chemicals which were leftover from its former electroplating operations and, in violation of its Clean Water Act mandated permit, discharged resulting wastewater to the Seaford treatment plant.
United States District Court Judge Richard G. Andrews scheduled sentencing for February 27, 2014.
Following the guilty plea, Charles M. Oberly, III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, stated, AMy office will continue to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of those environmental offenses which present a present or potential hazard to human health or the environment.@
"For years the defendant knowingly disregarded federal and state environmental laws,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program for the Middle Atlantic States. "Improperly handling hazardous wastes and industrial pollutants can threaten the environment and put the public at serious risk. Today's guilty plea demonstrates our resolve to collaborate with our state and federal counterparts to vigorously investigate and prosecute any credible allegation that a company and its leaders treat our nation's environmental laws with contempt.”
“This case is another example of effective partnership between Delaware, EPA and the U.S. Attorney's Office to protect public health and the environment,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O=Mara. ADelaware companies demonstrate every day that they can be successful while complying with environmental standards, and DNREC works hard to assist the state's smaller businesses to achieve these goals. However, we have no tolerance for those who continually demonstrate a blatant disregard for the state’s hazardous waste regulations. We appreciate the great efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and EPA in this matter.
This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control-Criminal Investigations. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edmond Falgowski and Special Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Lisa.