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Roundup of Recent News Items in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 10/28/1999
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(#99171) IN NEW YORK STATE:

Man Faces Longest Sentence Ever Imposed in Environmental Case

Facing the longest sentence ever imposed for an environmental crime, a 43-year-old Panamanian man, Harold Julio Fargas, also known as Harold Gresi, pled guilty on Friday, October 22 to illegal disposal of hazardous waste in a manner that posed a danger to others and conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess cocaine. If the Judge accepts the terms of the plea agreement, Fargas will serve concurrent sentences of 15 years in prison for the two charges. In 1985 in Minden, New York, Fargas and others representing the Cali cocaine cartel constructed and operated what is believed to be one of the largest cocaine manufacturing laboratories ever discovered in the U.S. The laboratory exploded and approximately 230 55-gallon drums of ethyl ether were abandoned. Fortunately, this extremely volatile substance was not ignited by the fire. Had the drums of ethyl ether exploded, agents, state police, firemen and numerous law enforcement authorities would likely have been killed or seriously injured. The investigation of the case was conducted by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Fargas is presently serving a sentence of nine and one half-years to life in connection with an unrelated drug charge. He will not begin serving his 15-year sentences until this sentenced is served. For more information, contact Craig Benedict, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York, 315-448-0672 or Mary Mears, EPA, 212-637-3669.

Man Faces Five Years in Prison for Shoddy Asbestos Removal

On Thursday, October 21, George Rosado was arraigned in Manhattan federal court on one count of violating the federal Clean Air Act. Mr. Rosado supervised an asbestos removal at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. Under his supervision and at his direction, removal workers ripped out asbestos from pipes in a machinery room without properly wetting it and keeping it wet until it was collected and contained.

Wetting the asbestos materials keeps the materials from becoming airborne. Mr. Rosado could face up to five years in prison and the greater of a $250,000 fine or twice the gross financial gain resulting from the crime. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations investigated this case. An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. For more information, contact Marvin Smilon, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, 212-637-2600 or Mary Mears, U.S. EPA, 212-637-3669.

Two Albany-area Men Go To Prison for Asbestos Scam

Two individuals were sentenced jail time on Thursday, October 21 for obtaining fraudulent asbestos certificates authorizing the defendants to perform asbestos removals in New York State. Charles Jubrey of Cohoes, New York was sentenced to one year in prison and Kenneth Nusca of Troy, New York was sentenced to three months for their crimes. In separate instances, Mr. Nusca and Mr. Jubrey applied for asbestos contractor and handler certificates while falsely representing that they had taken and passed the necessary course required under the federal Clean Air Act and state asbestos laws. The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New York State Department of Labor. For more information, contact Craig Benedict, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of New York, 315-448-0672 or Mary Mears, EPA, 212-637-3669.

Niagara Falls Company Settles with EPA on PCB Transformer Violations

Niagara Falls, New York-based Tulip Corporation has settled with the EPA on charges that it did not keep necessary records on or inspect two PCB transformers at its facility located at 3125 Highland Avenue. The company, which readies recycled plastic for reuse, will pay a $35,075 fine for the infractions. The two transformers are part of a distribution system that delivers power throughout the facility. An EPA inspection of the facility in October 1998 revealed that since 1990, Tulip had not kept annual document logs of the amount of PCBs in the transformers or performed required inspections of the two units to make certain that, among other things, they were not leaking PCB fluid. These are violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, the federal law that governs PCBs. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are synthetic organic chemicals that in the past, were used in numerous industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment. TSCA banned all new PCB production after it was found that the chemical can have serious ecological and human health effects, and is suspected to cause cancer. TSCA also instituted requirements for dealing with existing PCB-containing equipment safely and responsibly, including periodic monitoring and record keeping. For more information, contact Nina Habib Spencer, EPA, at 212-637-3670.

IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

E.I. DuPont Settles with EPA on Chemical Reporting Charges for $91,570

E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company has settled with EPA on charges that it did not submit timely information to the agency about chemicals present at DuPont facilities in Deepwater and Parlin, New Jersey, and Rochester and Buffalo, New York. The charges against DuPont stemmed from a voluntary self-disclosure by the company that it had not filed on-time annual Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) forms for copper, nickel and zinc compounds at its Deepwater facility in 1994, 1995 and 1996, as required under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA 313). Further investigation by EPA revealed similar self-disclosed late-reporting violations that occurred at three other DuPont facilities for chemicals including xylene, chlorine and nitrate compounds. DuPont voluntarily investigated and confirmed these additional reporting violations and worked cooperatively with EPA to resolve them. As a result, there are now no outstanding known EPCRA 313 violations at any DuPont facilities in New York or New Jersey. By July 1 of every year, companies like DuPont that manufacture, process, import or otherwise use toxic chemicals must submit TRI forms to EPA providing detailed information about each chemical. This information is compiled annually into a Toxic Release Inventory report, and is released to the public to help Americans know more about the chemicals present in their local environment. E.I. DuPont settled with EPA on the charges for a penalty of $91,570. For more information, contact Nina Habib Spencer, EPA, at 212-637-3670.

For more information contact:

Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3675 FAX: 212-637-4445