Rexburg Man Sentenced for Illegally Storing and Disposing of Hazardous Waste
POCATELLO – Max Spatig, 73, of Rexburg, Idaho, the owner of MS Enterprises, was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in prison for knowingly storing and disposing of hazardous waste on a property off the Archer-Lyman Highway near Rexburg, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Senior U.S. District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel, a visiting judge from the District of Colorado, also ordered Spatig to pay $498,652 in restitution, and serve three years supervised release following his release from prison. Spatig was indicted by a federal grand jury on December 11, 2012, and convicted following a two-week jury trial in June.
According to the evidence introduced at trial, on July 8, 2010, a total of 3,478 containers of hazardous waste materials were found on the property outside of Rexburg. Many of the containers were labeled as containing hazardous materials and many were corroded. They had been left outdoors for years. Samples taken from some of the containers confirmed that the contents were hazardous waste due to ignitability and corrosivity characteristics. Ignitable materials catch fire at relatively low temperatures and present a dangerous fire hazard. Corrosive materials cause other materials to dissolve on contact. The contents of the containers were shipped to a hazardous waste disposal facility, incurring a cost to the federal government of $498,652. Neither MS Enterprises nor Spatig had any permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that would have covered the operation of a hazardous waste dump.
Spatig had engaged in similar conduct before. In 2005, the State of Idaho cleaned up hazardous waste from another property belonging to Spatig near Menan in Jefferson County, Idaho. The cost of that cleanup was $188,000. Previous to 2005, Spatig engaged in similar conduct in Kaysville, Utah. Because of multiple violations of court-orders prior to trial and offenses committed while on pre-trial release, Spatig has been held in custody since September 11, 2014.
“Mr. Spatig’s conduct of illegally storing hazardous materials has been a longstanding problem and source of environmental danger for various communities with our state,” said Olson. “We are proud of the combined effort of local, state and federal agencies in putting an end to this behavior through the prosecution of Mr. Spatig. This prosecution and sentencing should send a message that we will not tolerate the contamination of our communities through the illegal storage of hazardous waste.”
"Hazardous waste can pose serious threats to human health and the environment, so it’s imperative that companies dispose of it properly," said Scot Adair, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Idaho. “The defendant stockpiled thousands of gallons of flammable and highly corrosive materials – exposed to the elements – putting the unsuspecting public at serious risk. Today’s sentencing shows that those who repeatedly refuse to comply with our environmental laws will be prosecuted.”
The case was the result of a joint investigation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the Madison County Sheriff’s office. It was prosecuted jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.