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MEDDYBEMPS JUNKYARD OWNER GETS YEAR IN JAIL FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE VIOLATIONS
March 18, 2003
MARCH 17, 2003
CONTACT: LEANNE ROBBIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
Attorney General Steven Rowe announced that Harry J. Smith, Jr., 62,
of Meddybemps, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison with all but one
year suspended for felony hazardous waste crimes at his Washington County
junkyards. Smith operates four junkyard sites in the Meddybemps area where
he has accumulated hazardous waste since at least 1986. The sites have been subject to three different environmental cleanups by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maine Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP). A Washington County jury convicted Smith
after trial earlier this year.
Smith initially started in business with his father operating a site known
as the Eastern Surplus Site near Meddybemps Lake. That site was declared a
federal superfund site in the 1980's, and DEP and EPA spent over $700,000 on
its remediation during the period1986 through 1990. The wastes included,
among other things, flammable paint waste, calcium carbide, and PCB
containing transformers. A second site, known as the South Annex, was
subject to a similar cleanup in 1991 and 1992. The cleanup costs on that
site were over $1.2 million.
Following the remediation of the South Annex in 1992, Harry J. Smith, Jr.
again began moving over 300 boxcars and trailers full of hazardous and other
waste onto the South site, as well as onto the property located across the
street, known as the North Annex. During an inspection in connection with
Smith's illegal tire stockpiles in June, 2001, a DEP staff person noticed a
can marked with red letters "WARNING-HAZARDOUS WASTE."
A subsequent search yielded hundreds of cans and pails and drums of
hazardous waste, including flammable waste, a trailer full of PCB-containing
transformers that was leaking into the ground, and a trailer full of calcium
carbide. To date, the DEP has spent over $1.7 million in the new cleanup
effort, and the remediation costs are likely to come to at least $3 million.
Smith was charged criminally with handling the waste found on his sites in
October, 2001, after the completion of two prior cleanups.
"We hope that a year in jail will cause Smith to reconsider his long-held
belief that the environmental laws do not apply to him," commented Assistant
Attorney General Leanne Robbin, who handled the case for the State.