Washington DC (10/27/2022) — Today, as part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, EPA released its 2022 Lead Enforcement Bulletin, which highlights the most notable lead enforcement cases during the past fiscal year. EPA pursued both civil and criminal cases for violations of federal laws to prevent and reduce exposure to lead in paint, drinking water, soils, hazardous waste and other environmental sources. Many of the enforcement actions and activities highlighted in the Lead Enforcement Bulletin address lead exposures in communities disproportionately impacted by lead and areas with environmental justice concerns.
“Despite our understanding of the negative health impacts that can result from lead exposure, many Americans are still exposed, and this is particularly true for underserved and overburdened communities,” said Larry Starfield, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Over the last year, EPA took numerous enforcement actions to protect the public from lead exposure.”
The Bulletin highlights both civil settlements and criminal sanctions for violations involving lead in paint:
- The latest cases against companies whose alleged renovation violations were broadcast on national television involved renovators on the shows “Maine Cabin Masters” and “Good Bones.” In both cases, the companies agreed to pay civil penalties and educate the public about lead-safe work practices, among other things. Other recent enforcement actions also addressed alleged renovation violations aired on the television shows “Magnolia Homes,” “Texas Flip N Move,” and “Rehab Addict and Bargain Mansions.”
- A renovation company agreed to pay a $137,804 civil penalty to settle alleged renovation violations.
- A property management/development firm agreed to pay a civil penalty to resolve alleged renovation and asbestos violations in an area with environmental justice concerns.
- Two criminal cases resulted in sentences and fines. One was for a property manager that failed to disclose known lead paint hazards to prospective tenants and the second was for the owner/operator of a lead inspection firm for falsifying lead paint inspection reports.
Lead in Drinking Water
The Bulletin highlights EPA’s issuance of an order to Benton Harbor, Michigan’s Public Water System to address elevated lead levels in drinking water and other violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This unilateral administrative order requires the City of Benton Harbor’s Public Water System to inform consumers when lead action level exceedances are detected and improve applications of orthophosphate for corrosion control, in addition to repairs at the water treatment plant and improvements to disinfection. The order also requires an independent third-party analysis of alternatives for long-term operation and maintenance of the system.
Lead in Soil / Superfund / Hazardous Waste
The Bulletin highlights:
- A settlement to recover approximately $1,950,000 in costs for the cleanup of lead-contaminated soil in the Chicago area.
- EPA’s order requiring the removal of lead-contaminated soil from 58 residential properties in Viburnum, Missouri.
- EPA’s selection of a remedy to address lead and other contamination at a Lead Superfund site in Indiana.
- Criminal sanctions for a former landfill director for illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste containing lead in North Carolina.
- EPA’s order to prevent the release of lead to the environment from a waste processing facility in Georgia.
In addition, the Bulletin highlights EPA enforcement and compliance assurance activities that address lead exposures from air emissions at federal facilities and on tribal lands.
North Georgia businessman sentenced to prison for dumping hazardous waste
Rome GA (10/27/2022 – Amin Ali has been sentenced for disposing of hazardous waste without a permit after dumping hundreds of drums in a chicken house in North Georgia.
“Ali abused the North Georgia environment by illegally dumping hundreds of drums of waste,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “The environmental laws are designed to keep Georgia’s natural beauty available and safe for future generations and this office will work to enforce those laws.”
“This sentence serves as a reminder that if you choose to undermine environmental regulations by illegally dumping hazardous waste, you will be held accountable for your crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Chuck Carfagno, of EPA CID Southeast Area Branch. “EPA and its state partners worked together to address the environmental problems and bring the defendant to justice.”
“This case demonstrates how local, state, and federal agencies work together to uphold and enforce laws designed to protect human health and the environment. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division appreciates and would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the women and men who collectively held the responsible party accountable for his actions and developed plans to remediate this release. Such blatant violations of our environmental laws pose serious risk to the surrounding community and to the natural resources of the State of Georgia and must be redressed,” said Sara Lips, Director of Communications and Community Engagement, Georgia DNR Environmental Protection Division.
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses the problem of hazardous waste transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. The RCRA is designed to protect human health and the environment by requiring the proper and safe management of hazardous waste – from the creation through the disposal of the waste material. The RCRA prohibits the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste without a permit issued under the statute. The RCRA also prohibits the transportation of hazardous waste to a facility that lacks a permit to accept hazardous waste.
The defendant, Amin Ali, owned and controlled Goldstar Investment Group LLC, 7 Days Property Management Inc., and Rock Springs Farming LLC. Through these entities, he owned property in Dalton, Georgia (a warehouse formerly owned by a chemical company) and in Rock Springs, Georgia (a farming property containing several old chicken houses).
In August 2021, Ali possessed more than 100 drums and other containers of chemicals, including many containing hazardous waste, moved from the Goldstar property to the Rock Springs property. The drums were discarded in one of the old chicken houses, with some of the drums left in an open trench to be buried. Some of the contents of the drums spilled and leaked into the surrounding soil.
Subsequent testing of the drums and soil revealed the presence of benzene, lead, and chromium. In addition, the contents of the drums were reactive and ignitable.
After being alerted through a call to emergency services, Catoosa County, Georgia, Sheriff, Catoosa County Code Enforcement, Catoosa County Fire, Georgia Environmental Protection Division Emergency Response, Georgia Environmental Protection Division Hazardous Waste Management Section, and EPA Emergency Response responded to the scene. Ultimately, the cost of the clean-up exceeded $500,000.
Amin Ali, 56, of Dalton, Georgia, has been sentenced to two months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $32,596.93. Ali was convicted on June 22, 2022, after he pleaded guilty to the charges.
Working with our U.S. Department of Justice partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia seeks to secure environmental justice for all communities, to ensure that everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to a healthy environment in which to live, learn, play and work. U.S. Attorney Buchanan encourages residents to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office via email at USAGAN.Environment@usdoj.gov when also contacting local, state, or federal agency hotlines or websites to report environmental, health and safety concerns. Notifying our Office helps us protect the community from harmful violations of federal health & safety laws. For more information, see https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/environmental-justice.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Law Enforcement Unit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Huber prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.
Topic(s): Environmental Justice
Component(s): USAO – Georgia, Northern