Pennsylvania Receives $3.7 Million From Landfill to Settle Violations

New owners pay a hefty fine following the disclosure that the previous owners of a Pennsylvania landfill accepted 36,000 tons more solid waste than the landfill was allowed during 1995 and 1996.

Waste Management Inc. has agreed to pay a $3.7 million civil penalty to settle violations at Alliance Landfill in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The former owners of the landfill accepted 36,000 tons more municipal solid waste than the landfill was allowed during 1995 and 1996.

"The former owners of the landfill violated their capacity permit conditions and defrauded the Commonwealth and local governments of the required fees," charges David E. Hess, secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "The department negotiated this settlement with the current landfill owners, and the penalty monies will go to Pennsylvania's Solid Waste Abatement Fund and the Clean Water Fund."

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania began looking into activities at the landfill as part of an investigation of illegal campaign contributions involving officials of the former Empire landfill.

DEP found that Empire had disposed of 36,296 tons of solid waste at the landfill in excess of what was reported to the department, the host municipalities and other governmental entities that were entitled to fees based on the amount of waste received at the landfill. DEP found that of those 36,296 tons, more than 30,000 tons were accepted for disposal in excess of Empire's permitted maximum daily volume.

The case resulted in the indictment of four former landfill officials for concealing the excess dumping and underpaying the required fees. The four individuals are Renato Mariani, Michael Serafini, Leo Del Serra and Alan Stephens. The four entered guilty pleas with the federal government in 2000, and all but Stephens are awaiting sentencing.

Waste Management, the current owner of the landfill, fully cooperated with both the federal and state investigations.

In August 2001, DEP submitted a Victim's Impact Statement in the federal case for consideration in the sentencing of the defendants and to collect the avoided fees due the state and local governments as part of any restitution by the defendants. Taylor Borough and Lackawanna County could collect approximately $200,000 in fees lost as a result of these violations.

"This case represents a far-reaching investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office and DEP," Hess said. "It sends a message that nothing short of total compliance with state and federal solid-waste regulations will be tolerated. We appreciate the cooperation of Alliance Landfill in settling this case."

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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