Former Boatyard Owners Indicted
Monday, February 23, 2004
The former owner and operators of a now-defunct boatyard have been charged with violating federal environmental laws by illegally storing hazardous wastes and allowing raw sewage to discharge into the ocean. Andrew Wall Jr., 60, a resident of Maui, and his company, the bankrupt San Pedro Boat Works (SPBW), were indicted on two counts of unlawfully storing drums of flammable and toxic hazardous wastes at Berths 44 and 57 in the San Pedro area of the Los Angeles Harbor.
The indictment additionally charges Andrew Wall Jr., SPBW, and Wall’s son, John Wall, a 35-year-old resident of San Pedro, with unlawfully discharging untreated and partially-treated sewage into the waters of Los Angeles Harbor.
Andrew Wall Jr. was the president, owner and operator of SPBW. John Wall served as the yard superintendent at defendant SPBW. At the time of the charged violations, which run from July 2002 through December 2002, SPBW was engaged in the repair and servicing of commercial, military and private vessels and water craft. While performing services, SPBW employees used hazardous substances - including paint thinners, cleaning solvents, petroleum naphtha, hydraulic oil and kerosene - which generated wastes, according to the indictment.
Inspectors from the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Fire Department conducted inspections of SPBW in 2003 and found numerous drums of hazardous wastes on the premises. Additionally, at Berth 44, inspectors discovered a discharge pipe under the wharf that was connected to an on-site septic tank that collected wastewaters from the company’s restrooms.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The defendants named in the indictment will be summoned to appear for an arraignment on a date to be determined. The maximum punishment per count is five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
SPBW filed for bankruptcy in December 2002, soon after ceasing operations at the site. Last fall, the Port of Los Angeles, which leased the berths to SPBW, appropriated approximately $425,000 to clean up the site.
This case was investigated by members of the Los Angeles Federal Environmental Task Force, which includes the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Hazardous Materials Unit; the Port of Los Angeles; and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. (HK Law)