3 August, 2004 – Read today’s legal news, law, law firm news & legal research at LAWFUELThe former owner and an operator of a now-defunct boatyard pleaded guilty this morning to violating federal environmental laws by illegally storing hazardous wastes and allowing raw sewage to discharge into the ocean.
Andrew Wall Jr., 60, a resident of Maui, the owner of the bankrupt San Pedro Boat Works (SPBW), pleaded guilty to one felony count of unlawfully storing drums of flammable and toxic hazardous wastes at Berths 44 and 57 in the San Pedro area of the Los Angeles Harbor.
Wall’s son, John Wall, a 35-year-old resident of San Pedro, pleaded guilty today to one misdemeanor count of unlawfully discharging untreated and partially-treated sewage into the waters of Los Angeles Harbor.
Andrew Wall Jr. was the president, owner and operator of SPBW. John Wall served as the yard superintendent at SPBW. At the time of the violations, which run from July 2002 through December 2002, SPBW was engaged in the repair and servicing of commercial, military and private vessels and water craft. While performing services, SPBW employees used hazardous substances -including paint thinners, cleaning solvents, petroleum naphtha, hydraulic oil and kerosene – which generated wastes.
Inspectors from the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Fire Department conducted inspections of SPBW in 2003 and found numerous drums of hazardous wastes on the premises. Additionally, at Berth 44, inspectors discovered a discharge pipe under the wharf that was connected to an on-site septic tank that collected wastewaters from the company’s restrooms.
“The unlawful storage of hazardous wastes near and the discharge of pollutants into the waters of our port pose an unacceptable risk to public safety and the environment,” said United States Attorney Debra W. Yang. “The commitment of this office to protecting the environment includes working closely with local, state and other federal agencies to find, stop and prosecute such unlawful activities.”
The Walls pleaded guilty before United States District Senior Judge Wm. Matthew Byrne, who is scheduled to sentence the defendants on October 18.
The maximum punishment for Andrew Wall Jr. is five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum punishment for John Wall is one year imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.
SPBW filed for bankruptcy in December 2002, soon after ceasing operations at the site. Last fall, the Port of Los Angeles, which leased the berths to SPBW, appropriated approximately $425,000 to clean up the site.
This case was investigated by members of the Los Angeles Federal Environmental Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Hazardous Materials Unit; the Port of Los Angeles; and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.