Source: http://www.pennlive.com, June 9, 2014
By: John Beauge
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Minuteman’s Dauphin County property, although it has a Middletown mailing address, is located in Lower Swatara Township.
The state Department of Environmental Protection says it was unaware until criminal charges were filed Friday of allegations that an environmental response company allowed contaminants to regularly leak from containers at locations in Lower Swatara Township and outside Milton.
This despite DEP employees in 2013 collecting samples at the Minuteman Environmental Services Inc. property in the 400 block of Richardson Road in Lower Swatara Township and at company headquarters in the Milton Industrial Park.
They were assisting the execution of a search warrant issued in connection with a statewide grand jury investigation, spokeswoman Lisa Kasianowitz said Monday. Due to grand jury investigations being secret, they could not discuss their involvement with other staff, she said.
Now that DEP is aware of the allegations, staff will determine what, if anything, needs done to remediate the properties, she said.
The grand jury presentment that resulted in charges against Minuteman and Brian Bolus, its owner-president, states in relation to the Lower Swatara Township property:
A hazardous material spill supervisor who worked for Minuteman until July 2012, told investigators he observed numerous roll-off boxes and trucks containing waste water, mud and cuttings from Marcellus Shale natural gas well sites being washed in the truck bay area and parking lot of the facility.
Tests of samples DEP took from storm drains revealed high levels of petroleum hydrocarbons that are indicative of oil waste being dumped on the ground.
Storm drains and a corrugated pipe led directly to an unnamed stream along the Minuteman property that is a tributary of Laurel Run.
Roll-off boxes regularly stored on along the northwest corner of the property would regularly leak and drums containing acid and petroleum waste from natural gas drilling sites were stored in a building.
A hazmat spill supervisor told investigators on one occasion he tested waste from inside a truck and found the radioactive level was well above the acceptable level.
He also recalled an incident in early 2012 when mercury in a 35-gallon drum was transported to the Lower Swatara Township facility for processing.
Minuteman, which responds to vehicle accidents in northeastern and central Pennsylvania and provides waste and water hauling services for natural gas companies, did not have a permit to store, collect or treat solid waste at either at its Lower Swatara Township site or Milton-area headquarters, the charges state.
BPK Holdings, a limited liability company owned by Bolus, bought the Lower Swatara Township property in September 2008 for $850,000. The presentment states M&T Bank holds a $680,000 mortgage on the property.
Company headquarters is owned by B3 Management, a limited partnership owned by Bolus, the document states. It was purchased in January 2011 for $3.2 million and is subject to a mortgage in favor of M&T in the amount of $2.952 million, the presentment states.
Prior to that time, Minuteman headquarters were at the Mifflinville interchange of Interstate 80 in Columbia County.
Charges against Minuteman and Bolus extend beyond violations of the state’s environmental laws to include allegations the company overbilled 50 customers, most associated with natural gas drilling, and conspired with other family members to commit insurance fraud.
Bolus is accused of ordering overbilling customers by adding a minimum of one hour to all invoices. He is alleged to have directed employees to “always make money on spills” and that customers “don’t worry about the hours, only the rates.”
Everyone at Minuteman had to follow Brian Bolus’ orders or he would get angry, a former accounts receivable supervisor is quoted in the grand jury report. He constantly yelled at employees and she saw him fire employees on the spot, the document alleges.
The insurance fraud charges against him allege three siblings, their mother, father and father’s fiancee were ghost employees covered by Minuteman insurance. Those people also are charged.
Bolus and his wife, Karen, live in a house south of Lewisburg that had an appraised value last July of $1.4 million. The couple also owns real estate in Park City, Utah, valued last July at $2.43 million and in Monroe County bought in 2008 for $850,000, according to the grand jury report.
Minuteman Towing Inc. was formed in December 1991 by Robert Bolus Jr. who sold it to his brother Brian in 2005.
Brian Bolus formed Minuteman Spill Response Inc. in May 2001. He is listed as president, vice president, secretary and treasurer of both firms.
The attorney general’s office says the charges are the result of a 20-month investigation that covered the period 2008 through May 2013.
Bolus has not returned calls but earlier this year claimed he had done nothing wrong.