U.S. V. Three Individuals & A Co.

Illigal dump site. Courtesy of EPA.

The three defendants were convicted of numerous violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (including the knowing endangerment provision), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), arising out of their operation of a decrepit chemical manufacturing plant in Brunswick, Georgia.  The defendants operated a mercury cell chlor-alkali plant for 15 years,  producing chlorine gas, bleach, caustic soda and other chemical products.  Massive amounts of mercury and caustic soda were allowed to leak through cracks in the floors of the cell buildings and spread to an adjacent marsh.  Highly caustic wastes contaminated with mercury accumulated in pools within the basement of the plant as well, requiring workers had to walk on makeshift catwalks above the contaminated wastewater.  This site was identified as one of the largest Superfund sites in the Southeast United States. 

The defendants were sentenced in January 1999 to terms of 108 months, 46 months, and 78 months incarceration, respectively.   Their convictions were affirmed on appeal.  In 1998, the parent company pled guilty to a seven-count information, agreeing to pay $3.5 million in criminal penalties.  The company pled guilty to conspiracy; a substantive violation of  RCRA for illegal storage and disposal of hazardous waste; a RCRA knowing endangerment violation; two substantive violations of CERCLA for failing to notify the National Response Center of the release of a reportable quantity of mercury and hypochlorite bleach into the environment; and substantive violations of the CWA; and the Endangered Species Act. The 11th Circuit confirmed all convictions in August 2001.

 

Updated May 27, 2015

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