Environmental Crime

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Environmental Crime

In the United States through the first half of the twentieth century little attention was paid to protecting the environment. Americans simply thought the environment and its resources were to be used to build a mighty industrial nation, to build cities, and to create the world's most productive agricultural system. Modern-day environmentalists, those who promote the protection of the environment, often point to the publication in 1962 of the book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, as a key factor in the start of environmental awareness. Carson, who was a biologist and longtime U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, warned her readers about the destructive properties of pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals used to rid areas or crops of harmful insects and bugs.

Carson researched the effects of pesticides and found that birds, fish, and animals were harmed and that pesticides were also entering the human food chain. Silent Spring not only focused global attention on the environment but led to laws restricting the use of pesticides.

Growing environmental awareness

Throughout the remainder of the twentieth century a number of major incidents called the public's attention to environmental issues. One of the earliest was at Love Canal. Love Canal, located in Niagara Falls, New York, was an abandoned dry canal used as a legal chemical dumping site by Hooker Chemical Company between 1942 and 1952. The site was then covered with dirt and sold to the Niagara Falls school district for one dollar.

A school was built on top of the Love Canal dumpsite and a neighborhood grew around it. For the next twenty years as children played around the school and in their yards, residents noticed strange smells and holes suddenly opening in the ground when large chemical drums eroded and collapsed. Small fires and explosions sometimes resulted when these drums burst.

Many female residents in the Love Canal area experienced multiple miscarriages (loss of a baby while pregnant), children born with birth defects, and cancer. By 1978 the problems became first local then national news. The Love Canal region was declared a threat to the health and safety of the residents. The school was closed and the state bought hundreds of homes in the area as a massive cleanup began.

In 1969 a large oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, killed marine wildlife. In 1979 and 1986 two incidents at nuclear power plants left people skeptical of the safety of these plants. The 1979 accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant located in Pennsylvania. While the worst was avoided at Three Mile Island, the 1986 Chernobyl incident was devastating. Chernobyl was a town located in the Soviet Union and home to a large nuclear power plant. The power plant's main radioactive core melted down and thousands of Russians suffered severe and deadly radiation exposure.

In 1989 another massive oil spill occurred in the waters surrounding the United States when an oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, ran ashore on the northern coast of Alaska. In response to growing concerns about the environment, as well as the humans and animals living in it, Congress began passing environmental protection legislation. Major laws were passed during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each law defined certain environmental violations, created penalties, and a whole new legal field emerged to deal with the concept of environmental law. The term "environmental crime" also came into use.

Defining environmental crime

At the beginning of the twenty-first century environmentalists, government agencies, and environmental attorneys were still struggling to define exactly what was an environmental crime, what actions should be prosecuted, and what penalties were considered appropriate.

Through the 1980s and 1990s the public usually linked environmental crime with the following actions: contaminating water by dumping chemicals into a stream or river; releasing pollutants into the air; and, improper disposal, storage, or transportation of hazardous wastes such as pesticides, chemicals, and radioactive materials. Legal proceedings focused on actions by corporations or businesses that violated environmental laws. For this reason, early environmental crimes were considered white-collar crime or illegal activity carried on within normally legal businesses.

Yet many environmental crimes did not fit under the white-collar mold. A truck driver who illegally stores gallons of hazardous waste rather than taking them to a proper disposal site could not be considered part of white-collar crime. Likewise a farmer who dumps pesticides into a stream, a hunter who shoots a protected bald eagle, or someone who smuggles exotic birds or animals into the United States have all committed environmental crime but are not part of the white-collar world.

Rather than calling all environmental crime white-collar crime, law professionals tried to develop a better definition. Factors generally considered are: (1) the harm done, whether the action caused harm immediately or was only potentially harmful; (2) the action itself, ranging from littering to major dumping of hazardous wastes; and, (3) the offender, whether individual or corporation.

Despite the attempt to further define environmental crime, it remains confusing. A person who releases chemical waste into a river, causing numerous fish to die has done immediate harm, but a company's storage of hazardous chemical containers in a warehouse is only potentially harmful to wildlife and humans. Scientific uncertainties make it more difficult to prove whether an action is harmful, potentially harmful, or not harmful.

Concerning specific actions, should someone who illegally dumps leftover paint thinner down a street drain be prosecuted as forcefully as a company employee who dumps hazardous wastes into a stream in the middle of the night? Should the employer of the person who committed "midnight dumping" (disposing waste in the middle of the night) be prosecuted along with the employee? If a large company violates environmental law, can a corporation be prosecuted or only individuals within the company? Should only the top officials of a company be prosecuted? Should only those who seek financial gain from environmental crime be prosecuted? These questions show why environmental crime is much more difficult to define than crimes such as assault or robbery.

Mary Clifford proposed a definition of environmental crime in her 1998 book Environmental Crime, as "an act committed with intent to harm or with a potential to cause harm to ecological and/or biological systems" as well as with the purpose to increase business or personal gain. According to Clifford, an environmental crime "is any act that violates an environmental protection statute [law]."

Environmental laws

In the second half of the twentieth century, Congress passed numerous environmental laws that included penalties to help guide judges and juries. Both small offenses, with mostly local impact, as well those affecting large areas and many people, have been prosecuted. Environmental laws are constantly being updated, changed, and sometimes abandoned. Following are the major federal laws regulating the environment as of 2000.

Clean Air Act of 1970

The Clean Air Act (CAA) regulates emissions of gases or small particles released into the air. The act authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set air quality standards to protect public health and the environment. These standards are called the National Ambient (surrounding) Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

The Clean Air Act provides penalties for violating the NAAQS. No individual or business may knowingly violate the standards, make false statements to the EPA, or tamper with EPA monitoring equipment. Penalties involve fines and possible prison sentences. If any offender releases hazardous pollutants into the air knowing they may place humans in immediate danger, the fines and prison sentences are severe.

Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (Clean Water Act)

Congress passed the earliest form of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1948. With the growing complexity of controlling water pollution and increasing public awareness and concern, Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. After more amendments in 1977, the act became known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The CWA's goal is to reduce water pollution.

The act made it illegal for any person or company to release a pollutant into U.S. waters unless a permit carefully controlling the release was obtained. The CWA set four levels of criminal penalties for environmental violations: (1) those considered negligent, where an offender did not realize the release was harmful and prohibited; (2) when the offender knowingly releases a harmful substance; (3) when the offender knows the release will endanger the environment of the water and possibly humans; and, (4) when the offender supplies EPA with false information or tampers with monitoring equipment. Penalties involve fines and sometimes prison sentences. Repeat offenders receive harsher penalties than first time offenders.

Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (Ocean Dumping Act)

The Ocean Dumping Act controls the dumping of substances into ocean waters. Dumping sewage, industrial waste, or materials that include radioactive, chemical, or biological substances is prohibited. Any kind of high level radioactive waste or medical waste is also illegal.

Endangered Species Act

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The act protects certain plants and animals that are struggling to survive. In 2004 approximately 326 species of plants and 306 species of animals were on the endangered list. The act prohibits any activity that is considered harmful to listed species or their habitats. The EPA strictly controls the use of pesticides and makes it a crime to import, export, trap, or harm any listed species.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) controls hazardous waste, including its transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. A hazardous waste is any solid or liquid substance that because of its quantity, concentration, or physical or chemical properties may cause serious harm to humans or the environment when it is not transported, treated, stored, or disposed of properly.

Hazardous waste is often toxic (poisonous), corrosive (damaging to eyes, skin, or surfaces), flammable (easy to set on fire), and explosive. Common examples of hazardous waste are pesticides, asbestos (a material formally used in building and manufacturing now known to be harmful), metals such as lead and arsenic, and automotive antifreeze and gasoline.

Any biological substance with the potential to cause infection is considered a biological hazard, or "biohazard," for short. Blood is a common biohazard, as well as soiled material generated at healthcare facilities, such as bed sheets and surgical dressings contaminated with body fluids. Living organisms such as bacteria and viruses from diagnostic procedures or used in research are also considered biohazards.

Criminal offenses under the RCRA include: (1) transporting hazardous waste without a permit; (2) treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous waste without a permit or in violation of a permit's terms; (3) deliberately making false statements in reports to the EPA; (4) destruction of records or failing to file required reports; and, (5) moving hazardous wastes into a foreign country without the knowledge of the country.

Penalties for RCRA violations include fines and prison sentences. Under the RCRA, EPA officials frequently charge corporate officers for the violations of their companies. The 1986 amendments to the RCRA strengthened EPA enforcement, set stricter waste management standards, and addressed problems of underground storage tanks leaking.

Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976

The Toxic Substances Control Act enables the EPA to track approximately seventy-five thousand industrial chemicals either produced or imported into the United States. Keeping track of these materials means screening, testing, and requiring special reports of chemicals that could be harmful to the environment or cause health risks for humans. The act also supports and helps in the enforcement of other acts like the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 ("Superfund")

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund, requires the cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous waste by those responsible for creating them. The act authorizes the EPA to find those responsible for pollution and require them to cooperate in the cleanup. Once EPA agents locate and identify a site, find the person or group responsible, determine what hazardous substances are present, and verify funds are required to cleanup the site, then criminal penalties are applied.

The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 added new technical requirements and strengthened enforcement of Superfund cleanup. (Superfund is the fund originally established by CERCLA for private corporations to contribute to, so as to create a singe "superfund" [large fund] to finance the cleanup of toxic sites.) Criminal offenses include failing to notify the EPA of a hazardous waste release and falsifying records related to sites. SARA also authorized the government to pay informers (persons who secretly provide information to authorities) money for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a violator of CERCLA.

Oil Pollution Act of 1990

The Oil Pollution Act tries to prevent oil spills by requiring oil storage facilities and oil tanker ships to follow strict regulations for oil storage. They also must submit plans explaining how they will deal with an oil spill. Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act the year after the massive and devastating oil spill of the Exxon Valdez in southern Alaska waters.

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act of 1947 (amended in 1972 and 1996)

This act regulates the manufacture, distribution and sale, and use of insecticides, usually called pesticides, fungicides, and rodenticides. Pesticides are poisons that kill insects harmful to plants and people. Fungicides are poisons that kill mold, mildew, or any fungus harmful to plants. Rodenticides are poisons that kill rodents such as mice and rats.

The act requires users of pesticides and fungicides to register with the EPA. Individuals face criminal penalties if they knowingly misuse a registered poison. Penalties include fines and possible prison sentences.

Occupational Safety and Health Act

Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the U.S. Department of Labor enforces the provisions of the act. The act requires workplaces be safe environments, free of hazards. Exposure to harmful chemicals, unsanitary conditions, excessively hot or cold conditions, and mechanical dangers are all prohibited under the Safety and Health Act. OSHA works closely with the EPA to monitor conditions, investigate, and prosecute anyone responsible for violations.

Environmental enforcement agencies

Congress passes environmental laws to protect the environment. Once a law is passed, it must be put into action. Laws like these do not contain details of how to carry out day-to-day enforcement. For example, a law may prohibit dumping hazardous wastes into rivers, but not specify which wastes, how much, which rivers, and so on. Instead Congress creates and authorizes government agencies to write specific regulations about each of these laws.

The EPA creates regulations for environmental legislation and is responsible for enforcing these regulations. Its criminal enforcement program identifies and apprehends offenders, then assists prosecutors in convicting them. The criminal enforcement program employs federal agents trained in all aspects of environmental crime. EPA agents have full law enforcement authority to investigate and arrest offenders.

Environmental specialists such as attorneys, forensic (applying medical studies to crime investigation) scientists, engineers, and training specialists are all part of the EPA enforcement team. Over forty regional and area offices are located across the nation. The EPA officials at these offices work closely with other federal (Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation), state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes.

The EPA maintains training centers in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado, as well as an environmental forensic laboratory in Denver. The U.S. Department of Justice prosecutes cases turned over by the EPA.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Division within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) oversees environmental crime cases. The Environmental Crimes Section prosecutes corporations and individuals who violate environmental laws. Its activities show corporations and the public that environmental crime in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century is taken seriously and will be prosecuted. The Environmental Crimes Section, EPA, and FBI work together to convict environmental criminals.

Three forms of enforcement

There are three forms of environmental law enforcement: administrative, civil, and criminal proceedings. Under administrative enforcement the EPA notifies an offender of a violation and requires the offender halt the activity. If the offender cooperates and a settlement is reached the matter is resolved. If the offender denies a violation has taken place, he or she enters into informal talks with the EPA. Again, if a settlement is reached, the matter ends. If there is no settlement, a formal hearing with a judge is scheduled. The judge listens to all sides and issues a decision. If the offender loses, he or she may appeal the decision by entering the federal court system.

If from the start the EPA either believes the case cannot be settled or the offender is uncooperative, the EPA refers the case to the DOJ. The DOJ looks at five major factors when deciding how to prosecute a case: intent to violate the law; the harm done; the offender's prior environmental record; how much or if the offender will cooperate in the investigation; and media attention the case is or will be receiving.

The DOJ also looks into the possible involvement of organized crime groups. Organized crime, for several decades, had dealt in the illegal disposal of hazardous waste. Proper treatment and disposal of the waste is very expensive. Various organized crime groups with little concern for the environment found dumping waste illegally was far cheaper and simpler than legal disposal.

The DOJ can prosecute environmental crime cases in either civil or criminal proceedings. The goal of a civil proceeding is to force the offender to pay for all damages and injuries experienced by the victimized person or group. The purpose is not to send an offender to prison, but to cover the victim's losses. To win a civil case the government must prove that a "preponderance" (majority or 51 percent) of the evidence supports the claim of the victim.

The goal of a criminal proceeding is to punish the offender with fines and imprisonment. To win a criminal conviction, the government must prove the offender is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Criminal convictions are much more difficult to obtain than civil convictions. The DOJ will often pursue cases in the less demanding civil courts.

State environmental laws

Many federal environmental laws require states to create state implementation (to carry into effect) plans (SIPs). SIPs describe a state's strategy for keeping in line with federal pollution laws. Both the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) require SIPs to stay with their guidelines.

In addition each state may pass its own environmental laws. Most state environmental laws and regulations are patterned after federal legislation. State laws must be at least as strict as federal laws. States may not pass legislation that lowers standards below federal requirements. States create laws to deal with issues unique to their regions. For example, states with beaches pass laws to protect them. Midwestern manufacturing states might pass environmental laws dealing with factory emissions released into the air, waste disposal in rivers, or laws controlling hazardous waste transportation on highways.

States, counties, and local communities generally have environmental quality departments and environmental crime investigation units, but their effectiveness varies depending on funding. They usually work closely with EPA agents, the DOJ, and the FBI.

The most common environmental crimes

Environmental crimes of large corporations often have extensive coverage in the media, but crimes of smaller businesses and individuals are just as common. States and counties deal with several types of environmental crimes. The number one criminal environmental activity is the improper disposal of hazardous wastes, both by companies and individuals. Illegal hazardous waste disposal ranges from unintentional spills in vehicle accidents on highways to planned illegal disposal.

Businesses and industries generate billions of tons of hazardous waste yearly in the United States. Proper disposal is expensive and a majority of the waste is disposed of illegally to
avoid these costs. Criminal haulers charge much lower prices than those operating legally.

Typical criminal disposal methods include leaving tank valves open to slowly release a hazardous liquid while driving down a highway; filling 55-gallon drums that are later left in remote areas; renting a truck, filling it with hazardous waste and abandoning it somewhere; renting a storage unit or a whole warehouse, filling it with waste drums, and leaving town; and midnight dumping. Sometimes businesses, thinking they are dealing with a licensed, legitimate hauler, will pay the hauler full price for legal disposal—only to find the hauler illegally disposed of the material and pocketed the money.

Other common state and local environment crimes are the illegal disposal of tires, construction and demolition materials, and household appliances. These crimes are so widespread because offenders are rarely caught. Illegally dumped tires often catch fire and release highly toxic substances into the air. Debris from construction sites and demolition jobs is frequently dumped alongside roads, forcing communities to clean them up. Cancer-causing asbestos fibers from insulation material and lead-based paint pose the greatest health hazard to humans.

Another common local problem is abandoned household appliances. Mercury leaks from appliances and human exposure—by breathing mercury vapors, direct skin contact, or eating or drinking contaminated food or water—can be severe. Exposure leads to nerve system damage in some people. The same is true of freon, the coolant used in refrigerators and older car air conditioners, which contains chlorine and fluorine, both toxic elements. Most states and cities have high fines if tires, building materials, and appliances are dumped illegally rather than taken to a designated landfill site.

Case studies of corporate environmental crime

The type of environmental offender Americans are most familiar with is the large corporation. These crimes are covered on television and in newspapers. The first three case examples involve Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retail sales corporation; General Motors Corporation, an automobile manufacturer; and Exxon Corporation, an oil giant.


In May 2004 Wal-Mart agreed to pay a $3.1 million civil penalty to the United States, Tennessee, and Utah for violations of the Clean Water Act. In the early 2000s Wal-Mart was building approximately two hundred new stores each year. Water runoff from construction sites has been a major contributor to the nation's water quality. Wal-Mart was charged with storm water violations at twenty-four construction sites in nine states.

The charges included failure to have a plan in place to control polluted runoff water, failure to install effective controls, and failure to inspect sites that were releasing sediments into sensitive ecosystems (ecological communities, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, together with their environment). The case was investigated and prosecuted by the EPA and DOJ along with the U.S. attorney in the District of Delaware, plus the state attorney generals' offices of Utah and Tennessee.

In the settlement Wal-Mart was required to use aggressive measures to control runoff, setting an example of high standards for other developers and contractors. Wal-Mart was to conduct training on how to deal with runoff, inspect sites frequently, and take immediate corrective action when needed. They were also required to spend $250,000 on wetlands protection projects in at least one of the states where violations were found.

General Motors Corporation

In 1995 General Motors (GM) Corporation settled with the U.S. government for $45 million for violations of the Clean Air Act. The DOJ prosecuted the case, charging General Motors with selling vehicles, specifically the 1991 to 1995 model year Cadillacs, that did not meet Clean Air Act emission standards for carbon monoxide.

The Cadillacs were equipped with illegal devices that caused up to three times the allowed amount of carbon monoxide to be released whenever the vehicle's heating or cooling systems were operating. General Motors added the device after customers complained about stalling engines. The EPA discovered that the Cadillacs failed to meet federal air emission requirements in routine testing in 1993.

GM's $45 million settlement included an $11 million fine, $25 million to recall and fix the Cadillacs, and $8.75 million on projects to help lessen effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning affects a human's ability to work and learn, and can cause headaches and impaired vision.

Exxon Mobil Corporation

At 9:12 p.m. on March 23, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker loaded with nearly 54 million gallons of oil, left the Trans-Alaska Pipeline terminal in Valdez, Alaska. The ship ran aground on Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. the following day, and 11 million gallons, or 257,000 barrels, of oil spilled into Prince William Sound. Over the next three days the oil spread over the flat calm water.

Little was skimmed off before it polluted approximately 1,300 miles of Alaskan shoreline, an area filled with wildlife. Approximately 35,000 birds and 1,000 sea otters were confirmed dead. Since most of the dead sank into the water, it was estimated that actually 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs were lost.

The DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. attorney general's offices in Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, Alaska, as well as the state of Alaska attorney general's office cooperated in the prosecution of Exxon under the Clean Water Act. Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act in 1990.

Settlement was reached on October 9, 1991. Exxon was fined $150 million in the criminal agreement. Since Exxon cooperated in the massive cleanup and also paid private claims, the court forgave $125 million. The remaining $25 million was split between the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the national Victims of Crime Fund.

Exxon also paid $100 million to federal and state governments. The federal government spent its share on environmental protection projects, such as shoreline monitoring and oil spill research. The state of Alaska spent its share on improvements for fisheries, wildlife habitats, research, and new recreational facilities.

Exxon agreed to a $900 million settlement in the civil agreement. Exxon paid the entire amount over a ten-year period ending in September 2001. The $900 million went to pay for cleanup, research and monitoring of affected wildlife, habitat protection, restoring the natural landscape, public information, and managing all of the newly established programs.

As of 2004 approximately 3.6 miles of Alaskan shoreline were still contaminated with oil. Wildlife species and the areas affected were categorized as recovered, recovering, or not recovering. Among those listed as "not recovering" are the common loon (a species of duck), harbor seals, Harlequin ducks, and Pacific herring (fish). Although many spills worldwide have been larger, the Exxon Valdez spill is still considered the most damaging.

Tyson Foods and Colonial Pipeline Company

The DOJ's Environmental and Natural Resource Division regularly issues reports on its prosecution of environmental crimes. Two examples from 2003 involve Tyson Foods, Inc., and Colonial Pipeline Company.

Tyson Foods, Inc., pled guilty to twenty Clean Water Act violations. During a four-year period Tyson admitted releasing untreated wastewater from a poultry processing plant in Sedalia, Missouri, into storm drains. The drains poured into the Lamine River. Tyson agreed to pay a $5.5 million fine plus $1 million each to the state of Missouri under a separate state civil proceeding and to the Missouri Natural Resources Protection Fund. The company was placed on three-year probation, agreed to an environmental review of its Sedalia facility, and started a new environmental management program.

Colonial Pipeline Company was charged under the Oil Pollution Act of multiple spills along a pipeline that crossed nine states. Its most damaging spill occurred in South Carolina's Reedy River. Approximately 950,000 gallons of diesel fuel went into the Reedy killing 35,000 fish. Prosecuted under civil proceedings, Colonial was required to pay a $34 million civil penalty.

Case studies of small companies and individual environmental crimes

The EPA regularly issues reports of environmental crime cases just like the DOJ. Information on the following two cases was released on May 5, 2004.

Rhodia, Inc., was sentenced on two counts of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act on April 29, 2004. Rhodia, headquartered in Cranbury, New Jersey, operated a phosphorous manufacturing plant in Silver Bow, Montana. The Silver Bow plant manufactured phosphorous from 1986 until 1996. Following closure of the plant, phosphorous waste was illegally stored at the facility.

Posing a risk to human and environmental health, phosphorous is highly flammable and can catch fire when exposed to air. Rhodia agreed to pay a fine of $16.2 million, plus $1.8 million to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. It was put on five years of probation and required to cleanup the site.

Illustrating federal and state cooperation, the EPA's agents of the Criminal Investigation Division from the Denver area and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality worked together to investigate the Silver Bow plant. They were assisted with legal and technical support by the EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and its offices in Helena, Montana, and Denver. Prosecution was carried out by the DOJ's U.S. attorney's office in Missoula, Montana.

An individual, David E. Ortiz from Grand Junction, Colorado, was convicted under the Clean Water Act and sentenced on April 28, 2004, to one year in prison and payment of a $2,000 fine. Ortiz was associated with Chemical Specialties, a company that produces propylene glycol, an aircraft deicing chemical. In 2002 Ortiz released industrial wastewater containing propylene glycol into the Colorado River, which killed numerous fish. The EPA's Denver office and the National Enforcement Investigations Center investigated the crime; it was prosecuted by the DOJ's U.S. attorney's office in Denver.

For More Information


Burns, Ronald G., and Michael J. Lynch. Environmental Crime: A SourceBook. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2004.

Clifford, Mary. Environmental Crime: Enforcement, Policy, and Social Responsibility. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc., 1998.

Jackson, Donna M. The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists FightCrimes Against Nature. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

Situ, Yingyi, and David Emmons. Environmental Crime: The Criminal Justice System's Role in Protecting the Environment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000.

Web Sites

"Criminal Enforcement." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.http://www.epa.gov/compliance/criminal/index.html (accessed on August 20, 2004).

"EPA Newsroom." U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.http://www.epa.gov/newsroom (accessed on August 20, 2004).

"Oil Spill Facts." The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.http://www.evostc.state.ak.us/facts (accessed on August 20, 2004).

U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division.http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/components.htm (accessed on August 20, 2004).

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