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PA TEXAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGAL HAZARDOUS WASTE STORAGE

Release Date: 12/05/97
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1997

TEXAS MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGAL HAZARDOUS WASTE STORAGE

On Nov. 14, John Robert Cooke of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston to the illegal storage of hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Cooke admitted that between October 1994 and January 1995 he illegally stored vinyl acetate at a tank farm near Humble, Texas. Vinyl acetate is a flammable hazardous waste that can cause skin irritation and blisters. It is an unusable byproduct of fuel blending. Clean up of the stored material and contaminated soil at the site cost in excess of $100,000. Cooke has agreed to reimburse the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) for the cost of the clean up. In February, he also faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of up to $250,000 or both. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Special Investigation Section of TNRCC’s Litigation Support Division with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center.

R-169 ###