Oil recycling company manager gets year in prison for environmental offenses

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The manager of an oil recycling company will get a year in prison for environmental crimes.

Lance A. Charen, 52, of Blue Bell, PA was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Gregory M. Sleet to one year and one day in prison..

According to court documents and statements, Charen was the branch manager of International Petroleum Corporation of America’s site, which processed used oil and hydrocarbon-containing waste water. The product was sold the reprocessed petroleum to various companies for reuse.

The facility’s petroleum processing activities generated wastewater, which the company treated at the waste water portion of the facility prior to discharge into a sewer along Market Street owned by the city.

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The city issued IPC a federally-enforceable Clean Water Act pretreatment permit which governed the types and concentrations of pollutants which IPC could discharge into the city’s sewer system.

The pretreatment permit required IPC to take “representative” samples of its wastewater on a monthly basis, to determine if it was complying with its permit limitations, and report its sampling results to the city every six months.

On June 22, Charen pled guilty to tampering with monitoring methods associated with IPC’s monthly samples. Charen admitted that on sampling days he caused the facility to significantly reduce the volume of wastewater treated, because slowing the treatment process rendered it more effective.

Additionally, Charen pled guilty to violating the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act by transporting hazardous waste without a hazardous waste manifest.

In June and July 2012, Charen caused to be transported for disposal in South Carolina approximately 27 truck-loads or 500,00 pounds of sludge (“tank bottoms”) which had been removed from the facility’s storage tanks.

The tank bottoms contained concentrations of benzene, barium, chromium, cadmium, lead, tetrachloroethene (also known as “PCE”), and trichloroethene (also known as “TCE”), which each served to classify the material as RCRA regulated hazardous waste.

IPC pled guilty to similar charges and was sentenced by Judge Sleet, on February 2, 1017, to a $1.3 million fine and $2.2 million in restitution to the City of Wilmington.

“Industrial wastewater can pose serious threats to public health and the environment, so it’s imperative that managers of companies, especially ones providing environmental services, honestly treat and dispose of it properly and sample and report pollutant concentrations honestly,” said Acting U.S. Attorney David Weiss. “Likewise, company managers must handle hazardous waste properly to ensure its proper treatment and disposal. The Department of Justice and EPA are committed to protecting human health and the environment for all Americans through strong enforcement of environmental laws. This conviction and sentence ensures that the defendant, the facility’s highest on-site manager, is held accountable.

This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. The City of Wilmington Department of Public Works and the DNREC Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Section assisted in the investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Harrell, EPA Region 3, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The business was later sold, with the successor company getting a cease and desist order earlier this year. See story below.

DNREC issues a cease and desist order to oil recycler

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