A defunct Utah electronics recycler is under federal indictment three years after he abandoned old television sets and millions of pounds of crushed cathode-ray tubes at various sites, materials considered hazardous because of their high lead content.
Anthony Stoddard, 49, of Syracuse is the subject of the felony indictment handed up by a grand jury on July 12, accusing him of illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste at a Clearfield warehouse near the Freeport Center.
Stoddard faces two counts that carry potential prison sentences of five years. Held in hundreds of “gaylord” boxes, 3.5 million pounds of crushed glass remain on site, posing a huge hardship on the family that owns the warehouse and has been stiffed for at least $300,000 in rent.
“Hopefully there will be some type of restitution, but there are so many people in line I don’t think he’ll have any money left,” said Clearfield warehouse owner’s son Andy Renfro. He estimates that it would cost $500,000 to properly dispose of the glass taking up 60,000 square feet of space inside and outside the warehouse.
“I am happy to see something actually happening,” Renfro said. ”I was starting to have my doubts. He was walking around town like nothing happened.”
Also indicted are Stoddard’s company, Stone Castle Recycling, and employee Jamen Wood. The two men have an initial court appearance scheduled Aug. 16 before U.S. District Judge Paul Warner in Salt Lake City.
Attempts by The Salt Lake Tribune to reach Stoddard and Wood were unsuccessful.
The Clearfield warehouse is one of several sites where Stoddard abandoned crushed glass and old TVs, amassed over the years when consumers were getting rid of cathode-ray-tube (CRT) units in favor of flat screens that now dominate the market. As Stone Castle took in these TV and computer monitors free of charge — many from Deseret Industries — the market for the recycled class bottomed out, leaving Stone Castle with a massive liability.
Stoddard wound up leaving piles of CRT units at storage yards at Cedar City and St. George, as well as at Clearfield, around the corner from the Renfros’ warehouse. The waste ignited at all three locations, causing fires that exacerbated the messes. The Environmental Protection Agency ultimately cleaned up the Cedar City site — at a cost of more than $300,000.
But the two Clearfield sites remain encumbered with massive stockpiles of waste with no solution in sight. By state law, the property owners are ultimately responsible for the problem, according to Scott Anderson, head of the Utah agency overseeing solid and hazardous waste.
“I feel for these folks,” Anderson said of the owners. “The markets are depressed right now. That’s the problem with recycling. It’s a good thing and we encourage it, but you have to be careful.”
Testing by the EPA of waste samples taken at the warehouse found the lead content far exceeded the 5-milligram-per-liter limit for handling such waste without a permit.
For example, 10 samples taken from crushed glass stored inside the warehouse recorded levels of between 88 and 253 milligrams, according to the indictment. Samples outside the building, where the boxes are collapsing and spilling their contents on the ground, were equally high. Soils showed elevated levels of lead, orders of magnitude great than what was found in background samples.
Wood, listed in key documents as a “project manager,” was indicted on four counts of knowingly omitting material information on a manifest. These offenses, which carry up to two years in prison, arose from his alleged failure to inform the Clean Harbors landfill in Grantsville that that four 70,000-pound-plus shipments of glass were hazardous waste, according to the indictment.
In 2013, Wood arranged to ship this glass to Clean Harbors, which is certified to handle hazardous waste, after other landfills turned him down. As a result of Wood’s omissions, Stone Castle saved some money, but the glass was land-filled as non-hazardous waste.