Thursday, March 17, 2011

AG Charges Business With Dumping Millions Of Gallons Of Drilling, Other Wastewater

Agents from the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section have filed criminal charges against a Greene County business owner and his company, who are accused of illegally dumping millions of gallons of waste water across southwestern Pennsylvania - including production water from gas drilling operations, sludge from sewage treatment plants and grease water from restaurants that cannot enter normal sewage systems.
Acting Attorney General Bill Ryan identified the defendant as Robert Allan Shipman, 50, of 1487 Toms Run Road, Holbrook. Criminal charges were also filed against Shipman's business, Allan's Waste Water Service, Inc., also of Holbrook.
"This was a calculated and long-running scheme to personally profit by illegally dumping waste water, regardless of the potential for environmental damage," Ryan said. "Shipman is accused of orchestrating a scheme to dump waste products into streams, mine shafts and business properties across Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties."
Ryan said evidence and testimony about the alleged dumping scheme was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges that were filed today.
According to the grand jury, Shipman and his company were hired by numerous businesses in the region to haul and dispose of various waste water products. Between 2003 and 2009, Shipman allegedly instructed drivers to mix various wastes together, in what was often referred to as a "cocktail," and then dump that mixture at locations across the region.
Ryan said the purpose of the "cocktail" mixture was to allegedly conceal the true nature of the waste water, allowing it to be disposed of in an improper manner, as well as to increase the volume of disposals that were billed to various customers.
According to the grand jury, Shipman directed drivers to falsify manifests so he could bill customers for the full capacity of their trucks, regardless of how much waste was actually being transported and disposed. He is also accused of instructing other employees to shred and discard actual manifests in order to generate new fraudulent invoices which would be sent to customers, forging drivers' signatures and other information on those bogus manifests.
During the course of the investigation, agents identified forged manifests for numerous businesses operating in southwestern Pennsylvania, including: Washington Penn Plastics, Penneco Oil Company, American Oil and Gas, DynaTec Energy, PA Land Service, All Clad Metal Crafters, CNX, Coal Gas Recovery, Precision Marshall Steel Company, Morgantown Technical Services, Targe Energy, Nemacolin Inc., Greene Resources, Jes-Mar Energy, Luzerne Township Sewage Authority, Mountain View Oil and Gas, Allegheny Power, Cracker Barrel, Menallen Township Sewer Authority, and Unit-Marts Inc.
Additionally, Ryan said that Shipman allegedly instructed drivers to leave water valves open at gas wells, in order to allow production water to flow onto the ground and into nearby waterways - typically after dark or during heavy rains, in order to conceal the illegal discharge. At other times, drivers were instructed to park their trucks in the garage at Shipman's business and dump the water into a floor drain, which leads directly to a nearby stream.
Ryan said that over the course of the alleged scheme, Shipman is accused of stealing in excess of $250,000 from clients as a result of the overbilling scheme, and improperly disposing of millions of gallons of waste water.
Shipman is charged with a total of 98 criminal counts, including participating in a corrupt organization, criminal conspiracy, theft, forgery, receiving stolen property, pollution of waters, dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activity (money laundering), tampering with public records, and violations of Pennsylvania's Clean Streams Law, Solid Waste Management Act and Fish and Boat Codes.
Allan's Waste Water Service is charged with 77 criminal counts for similar offenses.
The criminal charges filed today carry substantial prison terms along with fines in excess of $1.5 million for Shipman and $1.2 million for his company.
Shipman and Allan's Waste Water Service were both preliminarily arraigned today before Waynesburg Magisterial District Judge D. Glenn Bates. Bail was set at $500,000 apiece.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 25th before Magisterial District Judge D. Glenn Bates.
The case will be prosecuted in Greene County by Deputy Attorney General Amy J. Carnicella of the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section.
Ryan thanked the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission for their cooperation and assistance with this investigation.

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