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Minnesota Electroplating Company and Owner Plead Guilty

Release Date: 02/03/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Stacie Findon 202-564-7338 /

(02/03/05) Hard Chrome Inc., which operated an electroplating facility in Minneapolis, Minn., pleaded guilty on Jan. 6
in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis to illegally storing hazardous waste in
violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). On the same day, Hard Chrome's
owner and operator Richard Walters pleaded guilty to knowingly making and delivering a false writing with
respect to Hard Chrome's illegal actions. Subject to approval of the plea by the court, the plea agreement
will require Hard Chrome to implement a program to detect violations of environmental law, pay a
$250,000 criminal fine, pay $42,800 to the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services, pay
$10,000 to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association and pay the Minneapolis Fire Department
$47,200 to buy hazardous materials response equipment. The Hard Chrome plating facility had plank
flooring which had gaps of several inches between the boards. Between July and October 1999, Hard
Chrome operated its facility in a manner that allowed hazardous industrial wastes including liquids from
plating tanks; tank bottom sludges; and wastewater treatment sludges, containing caustics, acids, zinc,
nickel, chromium, cyanide and other heavy metals, to fall through the floor and pool in open lagoons in the
facility's basement. Hard Chrome at no time had a RCRA permit to store these hazardous wastes. In
addition, on or about Oct. 16, 2000, Richard Walters made and delivered a false writing related to the
facility's operations. Open pools of hazardous waste create a serious potential for injury to humans who
are exposed to them. The case was investigated by the Minneapolis Office of EPA's Criminal
Investigation Division, the City of Minneapolis Regulatory Services, Hennepin County's Department of
Environmental Services and the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services. Investigative support was
provided by EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and EPA Region 5. The case is being
prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.