February 2, 1985
Subject: Review of EPA Complaint Against Waste Management Inc. Vickery Facility
From: William Sanjour and Hugh B. Kaufman
On January 24, 1985, EPA Region V filed a civil complaint against Chemical Waste Management Inc. (CWM) for improper handling and disposal of PCBs at CWM's Vickery, Ohio facility (attachment 1). The complaint proposes penalties of about $7 million. EPA issued a press release suggesting that this was the largest penalty ever sought in an environmental case. The purpose of this memorandum is to point out that the complaint and the proposed penalty fall far short of an appropriate response to the violations committed by CWM.
Page 7 of the complaint emphasizes:"the need to assess a civil penalty that will reduce or eliminate any financial or competitive advantage gained by the Respondent as a result of its failure to follow TSCA and the regulations."It then points out that the:"Respondent incurred an economic savings of at least $20,000,000 by selling PCB contaminated oil in commerce."The state of Ohio has fined CWM $10,000,000. EPA is proposing an addition fine of $7,000,000. Using EPA's own figures, that still leaves CWM with a $3,000,000 financial advantage from breaking the law. Furthermore, the $20 million figure refers only to CWM's savings from violating only one of seven counts. There is no indication in the complaint of what the cost saving was for the other six counts.
In 1978, the Ward Transformer Co. spread 30,000 gallons of PCB on the roads of North Carolina. Federal criminal charges were filed against Buck Ward. He was convicted and sentenced less than two years after the incident. In 1981 he was sent to federal prison.
In contrast, between 1980 and 1983, CWM illegally sold 600,000 gallons of PCB for road oil, 20 times more than Ward, yet after two years no criminal charges have been filed against anyone in CWM. Furthermore, the possibility exists that some of the PCB's from the CWM facility in Vickery, Ohio may have contained dioxin (see attachment 2).
It has been pointed out, in attachment 3, that EPA has failedto inform the communities whose roads have been oiled with these PCB's. This behavior is very different than in the Ward case where EPA made every effort to find and clean up all the PCB's at a cost of $2.5 million.By failing to inform the public, EPA is sparing CWM perhaps tens of millions of dollars in clean up costs, hundreds of millions in law suits, and both civil and criminal suits from the states in which these PCBs ended up.
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