Body Shop and Manager Fined for Illegal Transport of Hazardous Waste; Hauler Facing Felony Charges

June 28, 1999

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that a Gaithersburg man and a Montgomery County corporation have each been fined $5,000 for unlawfully transporting waste paint solvents, a controlled hazardous substance, from a Wheaton auto body repair shop. David William Bass, 33, the manager of Wheaton Body Shop, Inc., 11308 Fern Street in Wheaton, pleaded guilty today before Judge Michael J. Algeo in the District Court for Montgomery County to transporting a controlled hazardous substance without requiring the hauler to produce evidence of a hauler certificate, a driver certificate and a vehicle certificate as required by Maryland law. John Christian Knoedler, 38, the President of Wheaton Body Shop, also pleaded guilty on behalf of the corporation to transporting a controlled hazardous substance without providing a manifest to the hazardous waste hauler. Judge Algeo suspended $3,000 of the fine imposed upon Mr. Bass and $2,500 of the fine imposed upon Wheaton Body Shop and made the remainder payable to the Maryland Hazardous Substance Control Fund.

According to the Statements of Charges, investigators assigned to the Attorney Generalís Environmental Crimes Unit received a citizenís complaint on August 8, 1998 about a dump site on an undeveloped commercial property, known as Collington Corporate Center. When the investigators arrived at the property, located near the intersection of Central Avenue and Rt. 3 in Upper Marlboro, they found several illegal dump sites containing twenty-eight drums ranging in size from five to fifty-five gallons, and more than six hundred used tires, scrap plywood and plastic automobile bumpers.

Representative samples were taken from the drums, some of which were leaking, and analyzed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which found them to contain nonhalogenated solvents Ė defined as controlled hazardous substances in the Code of Maryland Regulations. Some of the plastic automobile bumpers contained Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) which were traced to VINs of cars that had been repaired at Wheaton Body Shop. Also, drums that were marked in a similar fashion to those dumped were also found at Wheaton Body Shop.

Bass was interviewed by investigators and stated he paid Richard Ford to haul away drums filled with waste paint solvent, plastic bumper covers, and used tires. Bass admitted he did not require Ford to show the necessary certificates needed to haul hazardous waste. Additionally, Wheaton Body Shop did not properly label the containers and did not provide Ford with a manifest describing the controlled hazardous substances.

"Mr. Bass and the company were charged because they generated the hazardous waste, so they had a strict duty to properly dispose of it," said Attorney General Curran. "A major part of that duty is making sure the hauler is properly licensed."

Ford has been charged in Prince Georgeís County with the illegal disposal of a controlled hazardous substance, a felony, and with commercial littering.

In Montgomery County, he has been charged with transporting a controlled hazardous substance to a place other than a permitted controlled hazardous substance facility, also a felony, and with transporting a controlled hazardous substance without a hauler certificate, a vehicle certification or a driverís certificate, all of which are required in Maryland to transport hazardous substances. The illegal disposal or transportation of a controlled hazardous substance is punishable under Maryland law by a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years. Ford faces a preliminary hearing on July 1, 1999 in Prince Georgeís County and one in Montgomery County on July 9th.

These cases were investigated by the Attorney Generalís Environmental Crimes Unit and the Maryland State Police.

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357