July 22, 2003

JULY 22, 2003



Attorney General Steven Rowe announced today that the Maine Superior Court has ordered a Meddybemps junkyard owner to report to jail for six months for violating the terms of his probation requiring him to clean up his junkyards and engage in no further environmental violations.  Harry J. Smith, Jr., 62, was placed on probation in March, 1999 following his criminal convictions for intentionally violating Department of Environmental Protection orders not to accept more tires at the tire stockpiles at his junkyards in Meddybemps.  Earlier this year, a jury convicted Smith of criminal violations of Maine’s hazardous waste laws at the same junkyards.  He remains on bail pending the appeal of those convictions.

In revoking Smith’s probation for the full amount of the suspended sentence, Justice Ellen Gorman noted that there have been three prior actions to revoke probation arising from the same convictions and that Smith has served time as a result of each of those revocation proceedings.  More recently, Smith violated a cleanup order relating to thousands of compressed gas cylinders containing hazardous material and asbestos on his property by transporting the cylinders over public roads in unregistered and unsafe vehicles, in violation of laws regulating the transport of hazardous materials.  In addition, the court found that cylinders had been cut up on the junkyard in violation of the order, discharging asbestos.

The court went on to find that Smith has failed to comply with a number of other probation requirements ordered by the court to make the junkyards safe, including his failure to create firebreaks around the remaining tire piles to reduce the risk of an extensive tire pile fire and to remove salvage located within 300 feet of the Hatton Brook to stop pollutants from leaching into the brook.  The court concluded that despite the State’s extensive cleanup efforts, which have cost in excess of $2 million, “[a]s long as Smith is allowed access to this property, he will continue to use it as he wishes, regardless of court orders or environmental impact.”

Attorney General Rowe noted, “Maine people will not stand for those who degrade the environment while ignoring laws and court orders.  The destruction caused by one serious polluter can reach forward many generations.”

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