BERGER, Mo. (AP) — Thirteen million pounds of hazardous waste has been illegally stored in a building in an eastern Missouri flood plain for nearly four years, according to federal and state documents obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch .
The newspaper reports that a federal indictment was filed this year in St. Louis against companies from Missouri and Ohio, and their officers. It alleges that 9 million pounds of the waste was first dumped in Mississippi before being dug up and illegally transported to Missouri.
A lawyer for Penny Duncan, owner of Missouri Green Materials, said Duncan was unaware the material was hazardous. She was told by her husband, Daryl Duncan, that the material was recyclable and could be used as a concrete additive, attorney Paul D'Agrosa said.
A lawyer for the Ohio company, U.S. Technology Corp. of Canton, and its president, Raymond Williams, 70, declined to comment to the Post-Dispatch. A phone message left by The Associated Press on Tuesday was not returned.
At issue is "bead blast" waste created by the removal of paint from tanks, planes and other equipment on military bases. It contained cadmium, chromium, lead and other heavy metals used in paint pigments, the indictment says.
U.S. Technology leased the blasting materials to clients and was supposed to dispose of the waste, the indictment says, adding that the waste is not "hazardous" if 75 percent of the blasting materials are recycled within one year.
The indictment claims that on 20 days in 2013, as much as 300,600 pounds of waste a day was shipped from Mississippi to the Missouri Green Materials warehouse in rural Franklin County, near the tiny town of Berger. The indictment says no permit was obtained to move the material to Missouri.
The warehouse is in an area overgrown with weeds. It is across the road from Little Berger Creek, which empties into the Missouri River less than a mile away. A state water permit unrelated to the hazardous waste says that the building is in the flood plain.
The potential health risk of the waste isn't clear. An email message left with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
A September 2016 consent agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for U.S. Technology and Williams to come up with a plan to properly remove the waste from the Missouri facility and test for any soil contamination.
But federal prosecutors said in the April indictment that the waste was still there. D'Agrosa said he had not been informed of any leaks or contamination.