Some Environmental Protection Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources investigations end in more than just civil penalties. In some cases, violations of an environmental law result in criminal penalties. Individuals can end up spending time in prison, and companies can end up paying hefty fines.
It was discovered back in 2015 that two employees of a company that transports and stores hazardous waste for other companies illegally dumped a substantial amount of an ingredient for making mothballs (naphthalene) into the ground in a Georgia neighborhood. Serious health consequences could result from this chemical. Officials say that the area was cleaned up before any damage was done.
The two men were arrested after it was discovered that they manufactured false invoices regarding the dumping in an attempt to hide what they had done. The men were convicted and sentenced to time in federal prison. At that point, the Louisiana-based company, Boasso America Inc., pleaded guilty. The company will devise and implement an environmental compliance program designed to avoid future incidents and pay a $500,000 criminal penalty, which is the maximum. It was unclear whether the company knew that its employees were illegally dumping or whether this was the first time it occurred.
Without proper environmental policies, a company could end up with employees violating environmental law. No Georgia company should assume that it will avoid repercussions for the actions of its employees. In fact, the opposite is often the case. It may be beneficial to seek the advice and assistance of an environmental law attorney to help create the appropriate policies and procedures, or to help with any accusations or litigation initiated by government agencies.
Source: wsav.com, "Louisiana company pleads guilty to dumping hazardous waste in Savannah", Aug. 26, 2017