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Three Idaho Men Indicted in Oil-Based Paint Hazardous Waste Disposal Case

Release Date: 3/18/2004
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman

March 18, 2004

Dennis D. Ellis of Boise, Idaho, Robert Mominee, currently of Salem, Ore., and Paul Woods of Wilder, Idaho, were indicted on March 10 on charges that they allegedly conspired to violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation and Uniform Safety Act by transporting waste without a permit, transporting it to an unpermitted facility and illegally disposing of the waste. Mominee is also charged with making a false statement to EPA agents.

In Jan. 2000, Ellis sold the Ponderosa Paint Company in Boise, Idaho to Kelly Moore Paints for $14 million on the condition that Ellis would dispose of 20,000 gallons of waste oil-based paint remaining at the facility. Instead of paying a licensed hazardous waste disposal company, Ellis allegedly hired Woods and Mominee to illegally dispose of the wastes.

Liquid, oil-based paints are flammable and must be disposed of by companies licensed to handle hazardous wastes. If placed into the trash or a landfill, chemicals from the paints may seep into the groundwater and be consumed by animals or people.

The indictment alleges that Woods and Mominee took between 3,000 and 4,700 gallons of the paint waste to their Idaho homes in Apr. 2000, and that Woods allegedly burned waste in an open pit behind his house. After EPA agents searched Wood’s property in June 2000, Mominee allegedly transferred the paint back to the Ponderosa facility. Mominee then allegedly lied to EPA agents, saying the paint was water-based and had been removed from his property by an unknown painting contractor.

The case was investigated by the Portland Area Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, the EPA Idaho Operations Office, and EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until they are proven guilty in a court of law.