By Kate Mishkin Staff writer
Charleston WV (4/13/2018) – The company that operates a private air terminal at Charleston’s Yeager Airport will plead guilty to an environmental crime in federal court next month, according to federal prosecutors.
Executive Air Terminal Inc. was charged this week with one count of storing hazardous waste without a permit, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court, in Charleston.
The company was charged in an information, which can’t be filed without a defendant’s consent and usually indicates the defendant is cooperating with prosecutors. The company’s president and chief executive officer is Brian Scott Miller, according to the information.
Executive Air could face up to $50,000 for each day of violations. The company is scheduled for a plea hearing on May 3 in U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin’s courtroom in Charleston.
At its terminal at Yeager Airport, the company offers services like fueling and hangaring for private and commercial planes.
Executive Air is accused of breaking the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which makes it a crime for someone to store or dispose of hazardous waste without a permit. Under the act, Executive Air was allowed to store up to 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste before it needed a permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
By September 2015, Executive Air had accumulated 37 55-gallon drums of waste fluid from draining and collecting oil, deicing and aviation fluid. Of those, 27 had hazardous waste — a total of about 3,675 kilograms, according to court documents.
A lawyer for the company, Mychal Sommer Schulz, would not comment Friday for this report.
Executive Air and the DEP entered a consent order dated July 20, 2016, after the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management issued 13 environmental violations to the company.
According to the consent order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first notified the DEP that it had discovered 37 drums of liquid waste near Park Avenue and Washington Street West, in Charleston, on Nov. 5, 2015. The drums had been stored at Yeager Airport “until the drums were moved off site in the early morning hours of September 17 and 18, 2015,” according to the information.
State regulators conducted a spill investigation at Executive Air on Nov. 20, 2015, when they found that a valve on the fuel tank’s secondary containment was open and that fuel had spilled out. They issued one violation for allowing a petroleum product to flow into the land surface in a way that could affect groundwater.
DEP officials issued six more violations after they conducted a compliance evaluation inspection Dec. 2, 2015, and found that Executive Air had failed to to label containers with the words “Hazardous Waste” or to keep containers of hazardous waste closed.
Officials were back Feb. 11, 2016, to investigate a complaint that Executive Air had continued storing waste and, subsequently, issued six violations, including failing to provide training and job descriptions for employees and failing to develop a hazardous-waste contingency plan.
According to the consent order, Executive Air complied with the DEP’s codes and rules and was ordered to pay $68,309 in penalties. Executive Air paid $63,304 to the DEP on Nov. 4, 2016, DEP spokesman Jake Glance said. It was not clear why Executive Air didn’t pay the full amount.
Airport police worked with the DEP and EPA on their investigation in 2015 that led to multiple violations, airport Director Terry Sayre said. He said airport leadership is now “looking at FAA regulations and safety regulations” before making any decisions.
As of Friday afternoon, Executive Air was still operating at Yeager Airport, Sayre said.
“It just started. We can’t do anything just because an accusation’s been made in the beginning,” Sayre said. “We’re doing our due diligence to see what steps we need to take, what actions we need to take in the future in regards to Executive Air.”
Reach Kate Mishkin at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-4843 or follow @katemishkin on Twitter.