Newnan man sentenced for hazardous waste violations

Thu, 02/28/2008 - 5:57pm
By: John Thompson

A Coweta county resident who nearly caused the bankruptcy of one Senoia’s leading citizens was sentenced Thursday for transporting hazardous waste material.

Deryl Parker, 44, of Newnan, Georgia, was sentenced by United States District Judge Jack Camp on a charge of transporting hazardous waste material without proper documentation, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

“This defendant has a prior conviction for improperly transporting and storing hazardous waste, and in fact his criminal actions in the past led to the creation of a federal superfund site in Coweta County, which cost over $1.6 million to clean up. Instead of learning from his past mistakes, this defendant flaunted his disregard for the law and safety of others, and now he goes to federal prison,” said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias.

n 1996, Senoia’s Paul McKnight rented out an old cotton warehouse in Senoia that has been owned by the McKnight family for decades for $250 a month to Parker, who used the building to store "janitorial supplies," fell behind in the rent and when the lease ended he was evicted, but the stored barrels were left behind. On September 4, 1997 the Georgia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received an anonymous tip from someone reporting a chemical smell near the warehouse. According to court documents, the EPA inspector stated, "The containers were not teetering or in disarray ... I smelled no solvent or chemical or odor of any kind."

The former tenant got a price quote of $170,000 to have the barrels removed by a private company, but didn't have the money to pay it.

On September 23, 1997, without McKnight's knowledge, a search warrant was issued and a team from the EPA, The Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation met to inspect the building. They declared the warehouse "an imminent fire hazard."

Without giving the McKnights a chance to hire a contractor, the EPA had the site cleaned up by a contractor and paid them $800,000. At a public forum a representative from the EPA stated that the EPA had funds to pay for the cleanup. Later they billed the McKnights for the overpriced cleanup.

In Thursday’s sentencing of Parker, officials were clear about the seriousness of parker’s crime.

“The defendant illegally transported flammable and potentially explosive hazardous wastes in the back of his truck without a permit,” said Ricky Langlois, Special Agent in Charge for the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division’s Atlanta Area office. “We will not tolerate those who ‘cut corners’ and put the public at risk by improperly transporting hazardous waste.”

He was sentenced to one year, four months in federal prison. There is no parole in federal system. He was also ordered to serve one year of supervised release. He pleaded guilty to the charge on November 20, 2007.

According to Nahmias and the information presented in court: From February 2003 to May 2004, Parker possessed at least 17 drums containing hazardous waste. Each drum held approximately 55 gallons. These drums contained waste flammable liquids, whose components included used lacquer thinner and waste paint. The chemical components of this waste were xylene, acetone, and toluene–substances that were potentially harmful and that had a “flash point,” or ignitability temperature, of less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Special Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency investigated and learned that Parker was driving around Coweta County with drums of hazardous waste in the back of his truck. When EPA Special Agents interviewed Parker about these drums he had transported, he refused to disclose where the drums were ultimately located. He agreed, however, not to move the drums and to allow the EPA to test their contents. Within a few days of his interview, Parker transported them to a disposal company. By law, he was required to obtain a manifest to allow him to transport hazardous materials.

The case was investigated by Special Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division.

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