Dover Man Pleads Guilty to Storing and Dumping Medical Waste and Disposing of Mercury Down the Drain
Judge Robert Cosgrove sentenced Small to 18 months in the House of Correction with the sentence suspended for a probationary period of five years. Under the terms of the probation conditions, Small must pay $50,000 into a trust set up by the Attorney General's office that will pay for some of the cost of remediation of the former APS facility; for expenses related to the prosecution of this case; and for continued training & legal education in the area of environmental enforcement.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF) that found Small was involved in an extensive business of collecting and transporting medical waste at various locations around Massachusetts. Although Small was licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to transport and temporarily store spent photographic solutions suitable for recycling, authorities determined that Small went beyond his permit by treating and disposing of hazardous materials in violation of several environmental laws, including discharging mercury and industrial wastewater into the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) sewer system, dumping hypodermic needles and syringes into a dumpster at his Mechanic Street facility, and storing other medical waste in a storage locker at a mini-storage facility in Natick.
According to Environmental Strike Force investigators, APS was licensed to provide different services including:
- Silver waste collection, specifically the collection of spent photographic fixer solution from veterinary, chiropractic and dental facilities
- Mercury waste collection from spent metallic replacement cartridges, and in some cases, liquid mercury
- Medical waste, including syringes, and soiled bandages
This matter first came to the attention of authorities in 2006 when the MassDEP was notified that Small had illegally disposed of red-bagged medical waste, including syringes and blood contaminated gauze, in a dumpster that was hauled to an Auburn, New York landfill.
A series of inspections by authorities at the APS facility at 4 Mechanic St. in early 2007 found that Small was not only illegally storing medical waste at the facility, but that he was illegally treating hazardous waste on site and then discharging the waste water down the sink and into floor drains that ended up in the MWRA sewer system.
Small's business of collecting and storing hazardous mercury waste was also investigated. Mercury is a highly toxic chemical which can build-up in fish and humans. Authorities determined that Small was collecting the mercury waste from dental facilities and improperly pouring the toxic material down the drain at the Mechanic Street facility.
Authorities further determined that these actions violated numerous environmental laws including the Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA), which regulates all aspects of hazardous waste in the Commonwealth from generation to disposal, and prohibits anyone without a HWMA license from handling hazardous waste in a manner that could endanger human health, safety, or welfare, or the environment.
A Middlesex Grand Jury returned the indictments against Small on September 18, 2008. Small was arraigned on September 29, 2008, in Middlesex Superior Court where he entered a plea of not guilty. Yesterday, Small entered a change of plea from not guilty to guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in the House of Correction with the sentence suspended for a probationary period of five years.
This case was investigated by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), an interagency unit that includes prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP. The ECSF is overseen by Attorney General Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian A. Bowles. The ECSF investigates and prosecutes crimes that harm or threaten the state's water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health. Lori Paradice, an inspector from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, also assisted in this investigation.
Assistant Attorney General Wendoly Ortiz Langlois, of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, prosecuted the case, with technical assistance from MassDEP and MWRA.