- Michael Jones, owner of Coast Transportation and Recycling LLC in New York, was arrested on 10 charges of various environmental crimes against him and his company. An Onondaga County grand jury handed up the indictment and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made the announcement.
- An investigation by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) found that in 2010, two underground fuel oil tanks were excavated, but they had leaked and contaminated more than 500 tons of soil. The soil was left on site for more than four years and liquid runoff from the pile flowed through a storm water drain into a tributary of Ley Creek. This liquid contained the hazardous substances benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylene.
- Jones has been released without bail. He now faces prison time and more than $400,000 in fines. One felony charge is for knowingly discharging pollutants without a permit, one misdemeanor charge is for operating an unpermitted solid waste facility, and the rest are for endangering public health, safety or the environment in the fourth degree.
DEC filed an administrative enforcement proceeding against Jones and Coast in 2011 for improper fluid, draining, removal, and collection activities. The $30,000 civil penalty for that issue now pales in comparison to the major case ahead. Jones is scheduled to appear in court on August 31.
"My office will continue to protect New York’s waterways from illegal forms of pollution," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Protecting our state’s natural resources is essential to safeguard both the public health and local economies, and those who break the law will be held accountable."
When reached by Syracuse.com, Jones called the charges "ridiculous," noting he bought the property in 2007 and the state required him to remove the old fuel tanks in 2010. "It's really pretty crazy how they come after you six years later," he said.
This adds to the attorney general's recent track record as an active environmental enforcer in the state. In 2013, Schneiderman's office announced a $2.4 million settlement with Stericycle for overcharging government entities and in 2014 he finalized a $245,000 penalty for a man who had been operating an illegal landfill. Last month, Schneiderman also announced that a local hauler would have to pay restitution and fines for ceasing to perform pick-ups after customers had already paid.