Chemsolv pleads guilty to hazmat shenanigans

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 1/11/2016

A Roanoke, Va., chemical distributor has pleaded guilty to illegally transporting and storing hazardous waste, according to federal court documents.

On June 12, 2012, a container with several hundreds of gallons of ferric chloride ruptured on the property of chemical distributor Chemsolv. The chemical spilled into a drainage ditch followed by rain, causing the water-soluble corrosive chemical to flow into nearby property. The owner of the property was never notified of the incident.

Chemsolv’s solution to the incident was to contact an environmental cleanup company. Approximately 4,500 pounds of ferric chloride mixture was vacuumed onto a truck and placed into five 275-gallon containers. The containers were stored on site for around two weeks and considered nonhazardous. Chemsolv transported the containers to a waste disposal facility not authorized to handle hazardous waste. Because Chemsolv designated the material nonhazardous, proper permits and placarding for hazardous materials were not acquired.

However, once the containers reached the disposal facility, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the chemicals in the containers revealed characteristics of both corrosivity and toxicity. Without proper permits and placarding in place, Chemsolv had illegally transported the hazardous waste.

In December 2013, Chemsolv was notified by the EPA of an upcoming inspection. In a previous inspection, the EPA found numerous containers of chemical waste that, if continued to be stored, would be considered a violation. When Chemsolv received its latest notice, those containers were still on site.

To circumvent any penalties, Chemsolv loaded the containers into three trailers: two taken offsite and one backed up against a fence to prevent it from being opened. Through a search warrant, law enforcement discovered the trailer on-site 11 months later, still containing corrosive material. Chemsolv was never authorized to store hazardous waste from December 2013 to November 2014 when the trailer on site contained the corrosive material.

On Dec. 22, Chemsolv pleaded guilty to both counts of illegally transporting and storing hazardous waste. Sentencing is scheduled for April 8 in Roanoke U.S. District Court.

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