Charges were dropped against another defendant, Solid Waste Services Inc.,
doing business as J.P. Mascaro & Sons, a Montgomery County waste handler
that also was charged with accepting certain customers' sludge at the
company-affiliated transfer station without necessary approval.
for the corporations said the importing of sludge has caused no negative
environmental impact, but the prosecution said that may not be possible to
Lehigh Valley Recycling contended that the case arose from
what it viewed as ''paperwork violations.'' The corporation relied on
representations of a former employee who said necessary documents were filed
when they were not, according to the defense.
Judge William H. Platt
ordered Lehigh Valley Recycling to pay a $200,000 fine, which was part of the
plea agreement. The corporation is to pay $150,000 of the fine to the Solid
Waste Abatement Fund and $50,000 to environmental charities.
Attorney General Heather A. Castellino said the $50,000 could be given to local
charities. In the past, fines for solid waste violations have been given to
chapters of the Audubon Society and wildlife funds.
Recycling also was ordered to pay a $5,000 investigative fee to the state
attorney general's office.
In 2002, state agents charged Lehigh Valley
Recycling with allowing 2,500 truckloads of waste to be brought into Ormrod from
May 1997 to October 2001. The prosecution said that 90 percent of the sewage
sludge came from New York state. About 1,050 tons came from Northampton borough
and Camden, N.J.
Lehigh Valley Recycling had a permit from the DEP to
operate a transfer facility. The corporation was required to file a form with
the department seeking approval to accept sewage sludge from particular
customers, called generators. Test results are to be included on the form so the
department can ensure the sludge is safe.
State agents reviewed tracking
reports that the corporation submitted from 1997 to 2001 and determined that
sludge from 13 generators had been received without department approval,
''What is the environmental impact of these acts?''
Platt asked the lawyers.
''That is a question we may never know the
answer to,'' Castellino said.
The state can't assess the impact, if any,
because there were no tests on the sludge received from the 13 customers in the
past. Since then, the department has received more recent test results and has
approved some of the generators, allowing the corporation to accept sludge from
those customers, according to the prosecution.
Lawyer Albert DeGennaro,
who represented Lehigh Valley Recycling and Solid Waste Services in the case,
said the environmental laws of the state weren't followed but that there has
been no harm to the environment.
The charges, he said, resulted from an
''unfortunate set of circumstances.'' He said Solid Waste Services had nothing
to do with the paperwork violations.
Attorney William F. Fox Jr., general
counsel for Lehigh Valley Recycling and J.P. Mascaro & Sons, said corporate
officers didn't intentionally violate any laws and didn't try to hide the
He said the state was aware that Lehigh Valley Recycling was
receiving sludge for many years from some of the customers because of activity
reports to the department that identified the generators. Everyone, he said,
thought the appropriate paperwork for approval had been filed.
the corporation's former director of environmental compliance for not getting
necessary approvals. The corporation's reliance on that employee, he said, ''was
misplaced.'' The employee has since lost the job.
DeGennaro said the
corporation could not prove that it submitted necessary forms for approval. Fox
said the corporation entered the plea because it realized that it could be held
legally responsible for the employee's errors.
Castellino said the state
doesn't agree with all the corporation's contentions.
Fox said the sludge
was properly processed and disposed of later.
Investigators didn't find
any wrongdoing in how the sludge ultimately was disposed of, Castellino said.
The point, she said, is that ''it still came into the state
Platt noted that there are reasons for the law and concerns
about what comes into the state.
Castellino said the DEP does not do
daily tests of sludge or checks on businesses and relies on corporations to keep
and submit accurate paperwork.
Fox said the transfer station still gets
sludge from some of the generators named in the criminal firstname.lastname@example.org
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