Hinterland Green

Monday, December 15, 2008

The EPA Unveils a New Hit List, A Roster of 23 Environmental Fugitives

The EPA has unveiled a new kind of most-wanted list -- a hit list for environmental fugitives accused of assaulting nature. These fugitives have allegedly smuggled chemicals that eat away the ozone layer, dumped hazardous waste into the oceans and rivers, as well as trafficked in polluting cars.

This list, which is similar to the FBI's most wanted list, is the first to focus on environmental crimes, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday unveiled a roster of 23 fugitives, complete with mug shots and descriptions of the charges on its Web site.
Pete Rosenberg, a top EPA enforcement official, said the people on the list represent the "brazen universe of people that are evading the law." Many face years in prison and some charges could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

"They are charged with environmental crimes and they should be brought before the criminal justice system and have their day in court," said Pete Rosenberg, a director in the agency's criminal enforcement division. Source: MSN
So, who are the unlucky stiffs to make the list? According to the EPA, the list includes

  • Mauro Valenzuela, who in 1996 is alleged to have illegally transported hazardous waste oxygen generators onboard ValuJet flight 592 without proper markings and other safety measures. The jet crashed, killing all 110 passengers and crew onboard. Valenzuela failed to appear in federal court nine years ago.
  • John Karayannides, who allegedly helped orchestrate the dumping of 487 tons of wheat tainted with diesel fuel into the South China Sea in 1998. Karayannides is believed to have fled to Athens, Greece.
  • The father and son team of Carlos and Allesandro Giordano, who were arrested in 2003 as the owners of Autodelta USA, a company that was illegally importing and selling Alfa Romeos that did not meet U.S. emission or safety standards. The two men are believed to be hiding out in Italy.
  • Raul Chavez-Beltran, who ran an environmental cleanup company in El Paso, Texas, that is accused of transporting hazardous waste from factories along the Mexican border and improperly disposing and storing it in the U.S. In one case, he allegedly stockpiled mercury-laced soil from an environmental spill in a warehouse.

The Web site also lists captured fugitives, among them David Allen Phillips, who escaped prison in 2005 after being convicted of Clean Water Act crimes in Montana. He fled to Mexico, was turned over by Mexico last March and now awaits further sentencing. David Ortiz fled after appealing of his conviction for Clean Water Act crimes in 2004. He was captured last March in Colorado and is currently in prison.

I think this list will help in some way. The EPA's criminal enforcement has waned in recent years. According to media reports, in fiscal 2008, the EPA opened 319 criminal enforcement cases, down from 425 in fiscal 2004. And criminal prosecutors charged only 176 defendants with environmental crimes, the fewest in five years. It is important for them to beef up their ranks to fight environmental crime.