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Leading Edge Aviation Services Sentenced for Unlawful Handling of Hazardous Waste at Greenville, Miss. Facility

Release Date: 11/04/2014
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini (EPA), 404-562-9183 or marraccini.davina@epa.gov; William C. Lamar (DOJ) 662-234-3351 or chad.lamar@usdoj.gov

ATLANTA – Felicia C. Adams, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, together with Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in the Southeast, announces:

Leading Edge Aviation Services, Inc. (Leading Edge), a corporation headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Glen Davidson, in Aberdeen, Mississippi, following a guilty plea to one felony count of treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous waste without a permit at Leading Edge’s now shuttered Greenville, Mississippi, facility.

Leading Edge operated a commercial aircraft painting facility at Greenville’s Mid-Delta Regional Airport until mid-2013. The process of stripping paint from aircraft in preparation for repainting generated large volumes of hazardous wastes that Leading Edge was required to properly manage. However, an investigation by the government revealed that from April 23, 2010 to May 16, 2010, Leading Edge failed to properly manage its hazardous wastes when it stored them in an open pit without a permit.

Judge Davidson sentenced Leading Edge to pay a criminal fine in the amount of $700,000. Leading Edge will pay a separate $275,000 civil penalty to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and a $25,000 community service payment to the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, a non-profit corporation. Leading Edge was also ordered to serve a term of probation of 12 months. The sentence further requires Leading Edge to complete cleanup of its Greenville facility, implement a corporate wide hazardous waste training program, hire an Environmental, Health and Safety Manager, obtain ISO 14001 environmental management certification for its operating facilities, adopt a corporate code of ethics policy, and conduct ethics training for senior management.

The activity to which Leading Edge plead guilty occurred prior to the company’s purchase by a new ownership group in April 2012. The company, under the direction of its new ownership, cooperated fully with the EPA’s investigation of this matter.

Felicia C. Adams, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, said, “The former owners of Leading Edge flouted the law by failing to properly manage its hazardous waste. Today’s sentence ensures that these illegal practices will not continue. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi is committed to maintaining the health and safety of our citizens.”
“Our nation’s environmental laws help ensure that human health and safety is not endangered by companies looking to cut costs illegally,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Mississippi. "The defendant’s actions callously placed the health of nearby residents at great risk. The paints and solvents used in this case were especially hazardous, requiring proper handling and disposal. This case sends a clear message that corporations that fail to properly manage hazardous wastes will be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions.”

This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

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