AG Shapiro Announces Felony Charges against Company’s President for Storing Hazardous Wastes in Company’s Basement for Decades
Harrisburg — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced felony charges against the president of a Chester County environmental company today for illegally storing and disposing of hazardous wastes for decades.
Thomas J. McCaffrey, Jr., 68, of Hibernia Road, Coatesville, is charged with the illegal management of hazardous waste and unlawful conduct related to the illegal storage of hazardous waste at Cedar Grove Environmental. The company, on Gallagherville Road in Downingtown, tests and analyzes drinking water and waste water samples. McCaffrey is the firm’s president and laboratory manager.
“This defendant illegally stored and disposed of hazardous wastes for many years,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Wastes were illegally poured down the drain on the company’s property. I won’t allow anyone to deliberately harm Pennsylvanians’ rights to clean air and pure water. Our Environmental Protection Section works every day to safeguard the environment in our Commonwealth.”
In December 2016, Office of Attorney General investigators discovered 250 brown and clear glass jugs labeled “TKN Waste and “COD Waste” in the basement of Cedar Grove Environmental. McCaffrey admitted the hazardous wastes – which were later tested and found to exceed the maximum regulated concentration levels for chromium, silver and mercury – had been stored in the basement for decades.
Employees and former employees of Cedar Grove Environmental said they were instructed by McCaffrey to dispose of wastes by pouring them down the drain on company property. The company had an on-lot septic system, but the system was only designed to treat sewage — not industrial wastes. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which worked with the Office of Attorney General on this investigation, tested the septic system and ground nearby and discovered elevated levels of mercury and silver. By not properly disposing of hazardous wastes, McCaffrey and Cedar Grove Environmental avoided paying for their safe and appropriate disposal.
DEP also determined McCaffrey knowingly provided fabricated test results, including drinking water test results. The DEP revoked Cedar Grove Environmental’s accreditation to perform water testing samples, after it had previously suspended the company’s accreditation five times.
Neither McCaffrey nor Cedar Grove Environmental ever obtained the necessary permit or exemption to use the company site as a solid waste processing, storage, treatment or disposal facility.
“These criminal charges are to hold the president of this company accountable for the real environmental harm caused by his illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “I appreciate the collaboration between my office and the Department of Environmental Protection on this investigation.”
Since being sworn into office in January, Attorney General Shapiro has made protecting Pennsylvania’s environment a top priority. He appointed Steve Santarsiero, an environmental lawyer, as Chief Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection. Attorney General Shapiro has filed lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency over ozone levels, standards for emissions from automobiles, and to enforce rules designed to curb greenhouse gases.
McCaffrey’s bail was set at $25,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12. The case will be prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Brian Coffey of the Environmental Protection Section.
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