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IDAHO MAN RECEIVES 17-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE FOR SEVERE ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
Release Date: 05/05/2000
FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2000
IDAHO MAN RECEIVES 17-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE
FOR SEVERE ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
Allan Elias, the owner and operator of Evergreen Resources, a fertilizer manufacturing company in Soda Springs, Idaho, was sentenced on April 28, for environmental violations that left an employee with permanent brain damage from exposure to deadly cyanide gas. Elias was ordered to serve a total of seventeen years in prison for his conviction on four federal violations. This is the longest prison sentence ever handed down for a federal environmental crime, and Elias was ordered to begin serving his sentence immediately.
In addition, the defendant was ordered to immediately pay the victim, Scott Dominguez, approximately $6 million in restitution and pay EPA over $300,000 for cleanup costs. Elias was convicted of knowingly endangering his employees in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when he ordered them to clean a storage tank containing cyanide and did not provide them with required protective equipment. Elias was also convicted of two counts of illegally disposing of hazardous cyanide sludge in violation of RCRA, and one count of making a false statement to federal officials by falsifying and backdating a safety plan. In August 1996, Elias directed his employees to enter a 25,000 gallon storage tank to dispose of waste from a precious metal recovery operation which Elias formerly owned. Elias did not tell them it contained cyanide wastes. In addition, Elias did not implement basic safety precautions that had been previously discussed with him by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Even after some of his employees complained of symptoms of exposure to cyanide, Elias did not provide them with required safety equipment that was available to him at no cost. In addition, Elias told rescue workers and emergency room personnel that the storage tank from which Dominguez was rescued did not contain cyanide or any other chemical that could injure workers. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, OSHA, the FBI, the Idaho State Police and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pocatello, Idaho.
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