New York Attorney General Letitia James and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced on Thursday the convictions of ALPCO Recycling, Inc., (ALPCO), and its owner, Alton Plumb, Jr., as well as Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants, Inc., and its project manager, Craig Foster, for their roles in illegally processing and disposing of 800 tons of electronic waste (e-waste) in Wayne County.
In 2015, a large amount of e-waste was abandoned at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center in Seneca County. The abandoned waste included television and computer monitors with cathode ray tubes, which are hazardous and contain lead. In 2016, when Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants was hired to clean up the abandoned e-waste, Foster approached ALPCO owner Plumb, Jr. for assistance. Despite knowing that ALPCO did not have a permit and was not authorized to process hazardous waste, Foster, on behalf of his company, entered into an agreement with Plumb to process and dispose of the abandoned e-waste. Altogether, ALPCO unlawfully processed and disposed of 800 tons of e-waste from May 2016 to July 2016. The ALPCO site was subsequently remediated and all of the damaged e-waste remaining at the site was properly disposed of as hazardous waste at ALPCO’s cost.
Under New York Environmental Conservation Law, e-waste must be properly disposed of through the appropriate waste or recycling system. By law, a DEC permit must be obtained in order for an entity to lawfully process e-waste in New York state. These regulations are in place to protect New York residents and the environment from improperly disposed of hazardous materials and e-waste.
Both Foster and Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wayne County Court. Foster pleaded guilty to Unauthorized Possession, Disposal, and Dealing in Hazardous Wastes (a class A misdemeanor) and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. Finger Lakes Cleanup and Recycling Consultants pleaded guilty to Unlawful Dealing in Hazardous Wastes in the First Degree (a class E felony) and was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge. Additionally, they were both fined $5,000 each.
Plumb and his company, ALPCO, previously pleaded guilty in Wayne County Court to violating the state’s Environmental Conservation Law and was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, and paid a $1,500 fine. ALPCO pleaded guilty to Unauthorized Possession, Disposal, and Dealing in Hazardous Wastes and was sentenced to an unconditional discharge. Plumb also previously agreed to a DEC consent order, requiring him to pay $225,000 in civil penalties for Environmental Conservation Law and permit violations.
The convictions were the result of a joint investigation by the Office of the Attorney General, DEC, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“When hazardous waste is not managed properly, it puts families and communities at risk, and endangers the environment,” said Attorney General James. “By disregarding public safety laws and common sense, these companies put residents in harm’s way and stuck local communities with the mess they left behind. Hopefully this conviction sends a clear message that illegally disposing of waste will not be tolerated by my office or our partners. I thank the DEC and the EPA for their coordination throughout this process, and for assisting as we brought these bad actors to justice.”
“Dumping e-waste is illegal and has the potential to damage our natural resources and impact the health of New Yorkers long after the dumping occurs,” said DEC Commissioner Seggos. “DEC’s thorough investigation and the joint enforcement action with Attorney General James and the U.S. EPA resulted in these convictions of two recycling companies and sends a strong message that New York state is not a dumping ground for illegal waste disposal and violators will be brought to justice.”
“The defendants violated environmental protections for safely managing 800 tons of hazardous e-waste all to avoid the cost of proper disposal, posing a danger to the entire community,” said Special Agent in Charge with EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division Tyler Amon. “This case demonstrates that EPA and its New York DEC law enforcement partners will hold those who knowingly violate environmental laws criminally accountable for their actions.