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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency News Briefs for July 27


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WASHINGTON, July 27 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the following news briefs today. For more information on any of these subjects, call the listed press officer:

(1) Ground-Level Ozone Progress to Continue

(2) Louisiana Man Convicted of Witness Tampering in Arkansas Endangered Species Case

(3) Owner of Florida Labor Camp and Three Others Charged with Federal Violations

(4) Men from Illinois and Missouri Charged in Arkansas Hazardous Waste Case

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(1) Ground-Level Ozone Progress to Continue

Contact: John Millett, 202-564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov

To continue progress toward meeting a stronger 8-hour ozone standard, EPA is taking final action to revoke the prior, less stringent 1-hour standard. In the same action, EPA is making exceptions for 14 “Early Action Compact” areas, which will still be covered by the 1-hour standard as they work to meet the 8-hour standard ahead of schedule. Due to the terms of the compact, these areas must keep certain 1-hour ozone controls in place until they meet the more protective 8-hour ozone standard. In exchange for a deferred effective date of their 8-hour ozone designation, Early Action Compact areas have agreed to take action to achieve clean air earlier than required under the 8-hour standard -- no later than Dec. 31, 2007. In light of the revocation of the 1-hour ozone standard, minor technical changes were also made to the Code of Federal Regulations to accommodate the areas that are technically still covered by the old standard. To learn more about this action, visit: http://www.epa.gov/ozonedesignations/

Enforcement Wrap-up

Stacie Keller, 202-564-4355 / keller.stacie@epa.gov

(2) Louisiana Man Convicted of Witness Tampering in Arkansas Endangered Species Case

On July 14, Alfred Craft, of West Monroe, La., was found guilty by a jury on two felony counts of witness tampering in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock. Previously, on March 8, 2005, Craft pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Federal Bald Eagle Act and two misdemeanor charges of violating the Migratory Bird Act, admitting that he intentionally lured and killed animals by baiting deer carcasses and sardine cans with Temik, a highly toxic poison that he was not licensed to possess. Also, on April 14, 2005, he went to trial on three counts of witness tampering and one count of violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by illegally using a restricted use pesticide. The first trial ended with a FIFRA conviction and a hung jury on the witness tampering charges. The testimony at trial claimed that Craft admitted to a witness he had been baiting foxes, bobcats, and coyotes on his land with poison-laced sardines, and in the process killed a bald eagle and two other migratory birds. In the witness tampering counts presented at the retrial, the evidence showed Craft threatened two witnesses and urged them to keep quiet about the investigation to federal authorities and instructed them on “how to testify.” Killing endangered species harms the environment by reducing biodiversity and tampering with witnesses prevents the proper administration of justice. The case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Baton Rouge, La., Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock.

(3) Owner of Florida Labor Camp and Three Others Charged with Federal Violations

On July 14, charges were announced against Robert Evans, Sr., of Palatka, Fla., Emma Mae Johnson, Nathaniel Davenport (a.k.a. James Bryant) and Eugene Sheppard by the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. All defendants were charged with alleged violations at the Palatka Labor Camp in Palatka. The camp is a community where farm workers live near Palatka. Evans was charged with the following crimes: making false statements to officials of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) about the number of workers living at the camp, improperly transporting laborers and allowing the discharge of raw sewage to flow from the camp into Cow Creek which is a tributary of the St. John’s River. Johnson and Davenport were charged with allegedly making false statements to DOL officials, and Sheppard was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The dumping of raw sewage into creeks can create a health hazard to humans and wildlife. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Inspector General’s Office, the Jacksonville Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Tampa and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division with assistance from EPA enforcement counsel.

(4) Men from Illinois and Missouri Charged in Arkansas Hazardous Waste Case

On July 13, Wally El-Beck, of Springfield, Ill., and Moumen Kuziez of St. Louis, Mo., were charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock with mail fraud and wire fraud charges. Between Dec. 31, 2000, and March 5, 2003, the defendants allegedly made numerous fraudulent solicitations to industrial waste generators located in Tennessee and Illinois claiming that they would dispose of their waste through incineration. The defendants then allegedly took in 10,000 drums of wastes at the Arkansas Municipal Waste to Energy facility in Osceola, Ark. The wastes in the drums were, in fact, not incinerated, and the companies that generated the wastes were forced to pay a second time to have the drums transported to another site where the wastes would be incinerated according to law. Failing to fulfill contracts to dispose of hazardous waste can create an exposure risk to those who may come into contact with the unprocessed wastes. This case was investigated by the Baton Rouge Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the United States Postal Service Inspector General’s Office with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Little Rock.



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