Two officials of a defunct Fullerton environmental clean-up company were indicted today on federal charges of abandoning asbestos- and lead-contaminated wastes in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The case involves Remtech Restoration Corporation, which engaged in the business of the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing material from commercial structures. Approximately 800 bags of illegally stored asbestos-contaminated material were found to have been abandoned at Remtech in August.
The four-count indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana charges:
* John Vincent Finnerty, 40, of Lake Elsinore, the former president of Remtech; and
* Patrick Joseph Deegan, 39, of Corona, the former manager of operations of Remtech.
* Counts one and two of the indictment allege violations of the Clean Air Act. Count three of the indictment alleges that Finnerty and Deegan failed to notify the government that hazardous materials were being released into the environment in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), which is commonly called the Superfund Act. And count four charges them with illegally disposing of hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
* As part of its business, Remtech removed asbestos and asbestos-containing components from businesses. Because asbestos has been designated a hazardous air pollutant by EPA, certain work practices, known as National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants apply. The first two counts of the indictment charge Finnerty and Deegan with violating several of those practices by abandoning approximately 800 bags containing asbestos waste that was not kept wet, not kept in leak-tight containers, and not disposed of at an appropriate disposal site. The 800 bags were discovered abandoned, and many of the bags were either open or ripped when they were found in August.
* Finnerty and Deegan also allegedly violated CERCLA by failing to notify the proper authorities that asbestos was being released into the environment. Count four accuses the defendants of violating RCRA by illegally disposing of lead-contaminated waste in drums at the Remtech site.
* Each count in the indictment carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
* An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
* Finnerty and Deegan will be summoned to appear in federal court in Santa Ana for an arraignment next month.
* The case was investigated jointly by special agents from the Pasadena office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division, and the Southern California Air Quality Management District.