Former manufacturer pleads guilty to storing, dumping toxic waste

Publication Date 11/21/2010
Source: Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)

A former Monticello circuit boards manufacturer pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Thursday for storing toxic waste and dumping the waste into Kitty Creek.

Gene Riddle, 74, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violation of the Clean Water Act, and also pleaded guilty on behalf of Riddle Inc. for one felony count of knowing storage of hazardous waste without a permit.

The maximum penalty to the company for the felony charge is up to $50,000 per day of the violation but according to the plea agreement the government isn’t asking for a fine.

The penalty for the misdemeanor charge against Riddle is up to one year in prison and up to $25,000 per day of the violation.

Riddle also will have to pay restitution for the EPA clean up, which will be determined at sentencing. The sentencing date wasn’t set Thursday.

Riddle manufactured printed circuit boards for electronic devices from 1972 to 1991 in Monticello. Many chemicals were used in the process, including raw copper sulfate, copper with ferric sulfate, ferric sulfate, sulfuric acid with alcohol, nitric acid, lead tin, formaldehyde, potassium cyanide and several fuming acids, according to court documents.

The chemicals were stored in a deteriorating building located about 400 feet from Kitty Creek, which flows into the Maquoketa River, according to the court. Riddle nor the company had a permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency or the state of Iowa to store these chemicals.

When Kitty Creek flooded in 1993, 2002 and 2009, the water entered Riddle’s storage building and in 2009 the flooding knocked over drums and containers of the chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency took samples in December 2009 from the drums and there were about nine samples that had at least one characteristic of ignitable, corrosive and toxic hazardous waste.

EPA determined Riddle was storing about 3,776 gallons of hazardous waste, according to the information.

EPA began cleanup at Riddle last July and completed the work in August, according to an EPA Region 7 fact sheet.

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