NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


April 10, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

FINKSBURG MAN SENTENCED FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE CRIME

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the guilty plea and sentencing of Edward L. Birtic for the illegal transportation of hazardous waste. Birtic, 75, of the 3100 block of Murray Road in Finksburg, entered a guilty plea in front of Judge John N. Prevas of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and was sentenced to a year in jail, which was suspended and was ordered to serve 90 days confinement on home detention. Additionally, Birtic was placed on a year of supervised probation and ordered to pay a criminal fine of $12,000 to the Maryland Hazardous Substance Control Fund.

According to the statement of facts, Birtic owned a warehouse on Heath Street in South Baltimore where the events leading to his conviction occurred in May 2000. Employees of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works Compliance Section were investigating an unrelated dumping complaint when they noticed an unknown substance leaking from under a roll-up door on the back of a warehouse located at 115 W. Heath Street. The City employees notified the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit, which contacted Birtic, who refused to allow them to enter the warehouse. He was informed that he needed to hire a licensed hazardous waste contractor to clean up and remove the leaking substances.

The next morning, May 19, 2000, Birtic attempted to remove the substances using an unlicensed vehicle, with untrained workers, using improper containers, who attempted to take it to an unlicensed disposal facility. Birtic's employees, at his direction, loaded four open unlabeled barrels onto a pick-up truck. The barrels appeared to be the cut halves of 55-gallon drums. Shortly after the barrels were loaded, the employees got in Birtic's truck and drove away. Fearing an imminent threat to the safety of the general public, investigators from stopped the vehicle near the warehouse. The results of subsequent lab tests showed the substances collected met the statutory definitions of hazardous waste. A subsequent inspection of the warehouse revealed that the hazardous substances had been mixed together and stored in the wrong type of containers.

"Once the problem was discovered and the defendant was advised what his legal responsibilities were to correct the problem, his subsequent actions were inexcusable," Attorney General Curran said. "We will aggressively pursue those who deliberately violate the laws designed to protect our citizens from hazardous waste."

The case was investigated by the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit, with the assistance of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland State Police.

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