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Lessons Learned the Hard Way - Environmental Law

Protecting the environment is an important matter. There are various federal environmental laws, along with some state laws. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal and state enforcement agencies are in charge of making sure that all individuals and companies comply with the laws and regulations that are meant to protect the environment. As part of their authority, these agencies prosecute companies and individuals who violate these laws and regulations.

In this article, you can read summaries of some of the cases that the EPA has brought against violators of environmental laws. Hopefully, these cases will encourage you and your business to make efforts to comply with all applicable federal and state laws.

Protecting the Water in Oklahoma

Allied Environmental Services, Inc. (Allied) was hired to collect and dispose of petroleum-impacted wastewater from various Department of Defense installations. Allied hired Overholt Trucking to take care of the hauling involved in the job. These companies and their presidents were charged with unlawfully injecting the wastewater disposal wells and covering up their crimes. More specifically, Allied, its president (Attaluri), Overholt Trucking, and its owner (Mac Overholt) were all tried (and ultimately convicted) of conspiring to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act and committing fraud.

Mac Overholt was also convicted of violating the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Attaluri was sentenced to 55 months in prison, while Mac Overholt received an 87 month prison term. They were also ordered to each pay $1,265,078 million in restitution. In 2002, Attaluri and Mac Overholt appealed, and the U.S. Appeals Court affirmed the convictions and sentences related to the environmental law violations.

Protecting the Florida Everglades

Ralph Dearden was the owner and operator of D&B Paint Manufacturing Company in Florida. From the 1970s up to the end of its operations in 1995, the company generated a variety of hazardous wastes including benzene, which is known to cause cancer. Following an EPA investigation, the EPA found that Dearden and two other men conspired to dispose of forty 55-gallon drums of hazardous wastes by dumping them near the Everglades National Park. Dearden allegedly did so in order to save money on cleaning his warehouse facility before renting it to the other defendant.

In 2000, Dearden and the other defendants were convicted of conspiring to violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Dearden was also convicted of violating RCRA, illegally disposing of hazardous waste. As a result, Dearden was sentenced to two years in prison, ordered to pay $117,393 in fines and restitution, and sentenced to three years probation after his release from prison. The other defendant received a sentence of four months in prison, three years of probation, and fined approximately $400.

Protecting Drinking Water

William J. McCarthy was the Senior Chemist in charge of supervising water quality testing for the drinking water filtration plant in Lawrence, Massachusetts, which supplied water to 60,000 inhabitants in the area. In March of 2000, he was charged with violating the Safe Drinking Water Act by falsifying drinking water quality test results. McCarthy pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to two years of probation, six months of which were to be home confinement, and fined $15,300.

Getting Legal Help

One way to make sure you're in compliance with environmental laws and regulations is to contact the EPA. If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not your business's policies and practices are in line with environmental laws and regulations, you should contact an environmental law attorney in your area.

To find out more about this topic, you can visit FindLaw's section on Environmental Laws.

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