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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 2, 2020

Local Firm Pleads Guilty to Hazardous Waste Violations

Assistant U. S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson (619) 546-7976   

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – February 27, 2020

SAN DIEGO – Curtis Technology, Inc., a San Diego firm that makes specialized coatings, pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday, admitting that the company illegally transported hazardous waste from its facility without a manifest.  In pleading guilty, Curtis Technology admitted that it conducted metal finishing operations at its location on Sorrento Valley Road, which generated various wastes, including ferric chloride, alkaline, waste filter cake, solvents and other chemicals.

The company admitted that between December 12, 2015 and August 22, 2019, CTI owner Alex Jvirblis (deceased) and a maintenance employee transported chemicals, including waste ferric chloride, waste filter cake, waste alkaline, waste solvents and other chemical wastes, from the CTI location on Sorrento Valley Road to three residences in San Diego owned by Jvirblis located on Wrelton Drive, Corte Morea, and Bourgeois Way. The chemicals were not accompanied by a hazardous waste manifest at the time of transportation.

The waste ferric chloride and waste alkaline are federally-regulated hazardous wastes having the characteristic of corrosivity.  The waste solvents are federally-regulated hazardous wastes having the characteristic of ignitability.  The waste filter cake is a federally-regulated listed hazardous waste, assigned waste code F006 for wastewater treatment sludges from electroplating operations.  All of these wastes are required by regulation to be transported with a uniform hazardous waste manifest.  The firm admitted that Alex Jvirblish acted knowingly, that is with knowledge that the chemicals transported to the three sites were not accompanied by a hazardous waste manifest and with knowledge that the chemicals were waste that had the potential or substantial potential to be harmful to others or to the environment.

Federal search warrants were conducted at the three sites in November, 2019, and the chemicals were recovered.  At one of the residences, chemicals were discovered which were too unstable to safely transport for disposal.  The area was evacuated, and the chemicals were detonated on site by the Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad.

“These kind of violations have the potential to jeopardize public health and damage the environment,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We will hold companies accountable when they take short cuts that put people and our environment at risk.”

San Diego FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner stated, “Today's plea was made possible by extraordinary investigative effort expended in a compressed time frame by the San Diego Environmental Crimes Task Force. The FBI is grateful for the integral support of the San Diego Fire Department, San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Department of Environmental Health (HAZMAT) and the Environmental Protection Agency, in expeditiously locating and neutralizing these dangerous chemicals."

“The law protects our communities and the environment by requiring proper storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in California.   “This case demonstrates that EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to holding knowing violators of those requirements accountable for their actions."

Sentencing is set before U.S. District Judge John A. Houston on March 16, 2020, at 11:00 am.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 20cr0715-JAH                                              

Curtis Technology, Inc.                                Incorporated: 1981                              San Diego, CA

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Transportation of Hazardous Waste Without a Manifest – Title 42, U.S.C., Section 6928(d)(5)

Maximum penalty for corporation: Five years of probation and a fine of the greater of  $500,000 or $50,000 per day of violation and a minimum fine of $5,000 per day of violation

AGENCIES

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division

Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

 

 

 

Topic(s): 
Environment
Press Release Number: 
CAS20-0227-Curtis
Updated March 2, 2020