North-Central Iowa Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unlawful Storing of Hazardous Waste
A Cedar Falls, Iowa man who knowingly stored hazardous waste at his now defunct Cedar Valley Electroplating facility in Cedar Falls without a permit authorizing the storage was sentenced on January 18, 2017, to two years in federal prison.
Richard Delp, 62, from Cedar Falls, Iowa, received the prison term after an August 3, 2016, guilty plea to a charge of unlawfully storing hazardous waste.
Evidence at the plea and sentencing hearing showed that from sometime in 2004 to about September 30, 2011, Delp owned and operated Cedar Valley Electroplating (CVE), an electroplating facility located at 5611 Westminster Drive, Cedar Falls, Black Hawk County, Iowa. Neither the defendant nor CVE had a permit to treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste under federal law.
CVE electroplated zinc onto carbon steel parts using a rack plating line (dip tank) and a hand-dip plating operation (barrel line). The various materials used in this process included raw steel, acids, zinc plating solution, chromate solutions (yellow and clear), acids and caustic soda. From sometime in 2004 to about September 30, 2011, CVE was a large quantity hazardous waste generator and produced more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month.
On September 9, 2005, and September 20, 2010, civil inspectors of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspected CVE and found hazardous waste being handled and stored unlawfully. The inspectors told Delp of their findings.
Based on information obtained during the 2010 civil inspection, the EPA issued a Notice of Preliminary Finding to CVE for failing to perform hazardous waste determinations on the wastes stored in the facility. In a July 25, 2011, letter from Delp to the EPA, Delp acknowledged some of the wastes EPA had observed in the September 20, 2010 inspection were, in fact, hazardous wastes within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §6928.
On or about September 30, 2011, Delp closed CVE, leaving numerous process chemicals and wastes inside and surrounding CVE’s building including those observed in the 2010 inspection.
In late 2011, Delp was ordered by the Cedar Falls Fire Department to move several white plastic tanks containing caustic or acid compounds from the outside and into the building so that they would not freeze and discharge into the environment. The tanks, when moved, left visible staining in the area where they had been stored outside, revealing there had already been discharges to the environment.
On February 27, 28, and 29, 2012, EPA executed a federal search warrant at CVE, discovering totes, tanks, drums, and other containers, some of which were leaking and unlabeled, and materials throughout the facility, giving off a strong acidic odor, containing hundreds of gallons of chromium, zinc, ferric sulfate, ferric chloride, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, and other items. Abandoned plating baths containing hundreds of gallons of caustic chemicals (e.g., hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide), waste water tanks, corroded metal and concrete surfaces also were discovered during the search.
EPA collected chemical samples from ten 55-gallon drums, one tote, five tanks and four vats. Of these 20 samples, 18 exhibited the characteristic for corrosiveness and 9 exhibited the characteristic for toxicity and therefore constituted hazardous waste under federal law.
Following the search, EPA civil responders removed earth, containers, and interior portions of the property to ameliorate the contamination. The on-site clean-up work concluded on October 23, 2012. The total clean-up related costs exceeded $789,138.03.
Items stored at the CVE facility were hazardous wastes exhibiting the characteristics of corrosiveness and toxicity (specifically chromium), for purposes of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6109 et seq.
“By refusing to comply with laws that ensure the safe handling and storage of hazardous chemicals, Delp put the public at serious risk,” said Justin Oesterreich, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Iowa. “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting local communities by holding to account those who disregard the harm they pose to public health and the environment.”
“Mr. Delp unlawfully stored hazardous waste, resulting in the discharge of this waste into the environment and creating a risk to the safety of others and to the natural resources of Iowa,” said Kevin W. Techau, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. “We hope this case will encourage others to comply with laws designed to ensure hazardous wastes are properly stored and protect our environment.”
Delp was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. Delp was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed and he was ordered to make $$789,138.03 in restitution to the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA’s) Superfund. He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
Delp was released on bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on February 13, 2017.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Forde Fairchild and Shawn S. Wehde.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is CR16-2022.
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