New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster, U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon, and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Commissioner Thomas S. Burack announce that PLH, LLC, a New Hampshire limited liability company managed by Stephen Pelkey in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, entered pleas of guilty in Cheshire County Superior Court to two felony indictments for failure to lawfully manage regulated waste and was sentenced on September 26, 2016. The indictments allege that PLH, LLC unlawfully operated a solid waste facility by keeping broken Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) from old computer monitors or televisions buried in the ground without a permit at its property at 136 Old Sharon Road in Jaffrey between 2010 and 2013 and also stored used monitors above ground without a permit where they were exposed to the elements. Today at the sentencing hearing, Cheshire Superior Court Judge Ruoff imposed a fine of $250,000 plus a $10,000 penalty assessment on the indictment alleging the company kept buried CRTs between July 2010 and August 2013. The court also sentenced PLH on the second indictment of improper maintenance of CRT waste to a consecutive fine of $250,000 that has been suspended provided the company remains of good behavior for ten years. Identical indictments against Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, Inc., formerly known as Atlas Advanced Pyrotechnics, Inc. Atlas Fireworks Factory, Inc. and Atlas Property Management, LLC, have been dropped upon the pleas of guilty and acceptance of responsibility by PLH, LLC.
New Hampshire law requires that anyone who operates a solid waste storage facility apply for and retain a proper permit issued by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). PLH, LLC and the Atlas companies had no such permit. “The Department of Environmental Services has a mission to enforce the laws protecting our state’s environment and public health,” said Commissioner Tom Burack of NHDES. “We take seriously the reporting of waste management violations and want to ensure that violators are stopped and required to responsibly clean up wastes that have been improperly managed or disposed of.”
In May, 2013, NHDES became aware through tips from informants that Pelkey had instructed employees to dig trenches for the monitors, crush the glass and remove metal parts for recycling, and then bury the remainder. After an initial investigation that located buried CRTs, EPA began a criminal investigation, conducting further interviews of employees and former employees. When questioned by NHDES about the burial in August 2013, Pelkey and his companies voluntarily agreed to have the waste excavated. Over 100,000 pounds of waste was then disposed of properly at the defendants’ expense. The investigation culminated in formal criminal charges against PLH, LLC and Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group, Inc.
Tyler Amon, U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge states, “The defendant acquired thousands of CRTs that later became worthless, and then brazenly had Atlas employees dig trenches and bury many of the CRTs in an attempt to avoid paying for proper disposal. Others were left exposed out in the elements, unnecessarily placing people and the environment at risk of exposure to the toxic heavy metals contained in the deteriorating CRTs.”
“This is an important prosecution. The State wants to make clear that those who engage in the deliberate, unlawful burial and mismanagement of waste will be prosecuted and punished. Hopefully this case will serve as a deterrent for those who are considering similar actions. ” said Joseph A. Foster, Attorney General.
PLH, LLC paid a first scheduled installment of $25,000 and the $10,000 penalty assessment toward the total $250,000 fine today and will make increasing yearly payments ending in October 2019 pursuant to a schedule imposed by the court as part of the sentence.