Once touted by Governor Tom Corbett as “an American success story,” the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce 2012 Business of the Year has been charged with improperly disposing of toxic natural gas drilling waste, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s office said in charges filed Friday.
You’d think at some point, this sort of nonsense would stop. According to reports, Brian Bolus, the owner of Minuteman Environmental Services, Inc., was charged along with his company for illegally dumping solid waste from well drilling operations and for ordering workers to help him orchestrate a scheme to systematically over-bill customers and place his family members on the payroll as ghost employees to qualify for group health insurance.
“Brian Bolus and Minuteman blatantly exploited hard-working employees, dozens of businesses and the environment,” Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement. “The laws are in place to ensure that all businesses are on a level playing field. When one company cheats, all good companies and the citizens of Pennsylvania suffer as a result.”
According to a grand jury presentment, oil and waste and other pollutants from drilling sites were regularly allowed to run into storm drains when trucks and tanks were washed at company facilities. The presentment also said that radioactive waste the company collected was commingled with other waste and allowed to leak onto the ground from storage boxes at Minuteman’s Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, facility. The company is also accused of illegally burying waste alongside the road at the scene of motor vehicle accidents to which Minuteman was called to respond.
Victims of the overbilling scheme included several major energy players. Mr. Bolus faces a total of 64 counts and could face upwards of $1.4 million in fines, the OAG’s statement said.
And by the way, let’s remember he has only been charged, not convicted, so all of this still has to be proven in a court of law. That said, I have long assumed that auditing contractor waste management practices was an archaic side-business associated with long-since settled environmental practices. Surely by now as an industry, we have all learned that unlawful waste disposal isn’t worth the effort.
Boy was I wrong.
About the Author
Gerald L. Kirkpatrick, P.G. is a Principal Geoscientist and the Managing Partner of Environmental Standards, Inc. Mr. Kirkpatrick has more than 30 years of applied environmental geoscience experience in both private industry and environmental consulting. Outside of work, Gerry enjoys fishing and an occasional single malt. A very poor chess player, he remains dedicated to the game, nonetheless.