Virginia Company Chem-Solv Pleads Guilty to Hazardous Waste Violations
In December 2015, Virginia-based chemical distribution company Chem-Solv pled guilty to two counts of hazardous waste offenses relating to the improper storage and transport of chemical waste, according to a recent bulletin published by the EPA. The plea agreement includes probation and several stiff fines. During the probation period, the company has agreed to develop and implement a plan for environmental compliance, as well as submitting to yearly audits to ensure compliance.
The two offenses relate to separate incidents that occurred between 2012 and 2014. In the first instance,Â the company experienced a chemical spill of ferric chloride, a hazardous chemical, that spilled over onto neighboring land before and during cleanup. Chem-Solv officials allegedly did not notify their neighbors of the spill, and in the process of cleanup, they arranged to transport the harmful chemical to disposal facility but allegedly failed to mark the waste as hazardous during transport. In the second instance, in advance of an announced EPA inspection, the company filled three trailers with hazardous chemical waste to be disposed of, but one of the trailers was deemed un-roadworthy. Instead of moving the chemicals to another trailer, the waste was allegedly improperly stored in the trailer on-site, where it remained for more than a year until discovered through a search warrant in 2014.
As part of the company’s plea agreement, Chem-Solv must:
- Pay $1 million in criminal fines
- Pay an additional $250,000 in funding for environmental community service projects
- Pay an additional $250,000 fine as a civil settlement to the EPA
- Serve five years of probation, subject to annual independent environmental audits
- Develop and implement a long-term compliance plan to ensure against future violations
Chem-Solv’s criminal charges have come primarily as a result of negligence, both in storing and transporting hazardous wasteâ€”two issues that could have been avoided with a compliance plan in effect. While many violations are not this extreme, the fact remains that many companies both large and small struggle with the complex regulations concerning environmental compliance, and whether through negligence, ignorance or oversight, often leave themselves vulnerable to hefty penalties or even criminal charges.
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