Environmental crime and pollution: wasteful reflections (1).
IN THE 1970s, A NEW MENACE BECAME THE CENTERPIECE FOR A NEW GENERATION OF environmentally minded reformers. Organized crime, which controlled the private sanitation industry in the Northeast, moved center stage. This took place at approximately the same time that the U.S. government passed the first important toxic waste legislation in its history. The most significant legislation passed was the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that mandated special handling of the newly recognized category of waste called either toxic or hazardous. Interestingly enough, the legislation was designed to patrol and discipline the waste disposers, not the producers. It was based on the premise that once the waste passed from its producers -- chemical companies and other industrial firms -- into the hands of the disposers, it ceased to be the producers' property. In any case, a great deal of needed attention was focused on the mob firms and their practices. There was some rectification of this when Superfund legislation was passed in the early 1980s. It mandated that all responsible parties (prod ucers and disposers) would have to clean up polluted sites. It has not always worked very well. I will discuss this issue at some length using a particularly egregious organized crime waste group as a template. Concentration on waste disposers had another significant side. Around 1970, several private carting firms began a rapid process of expansion, buying dozens and dozens of small carting companies and landfills across the country. In a relatively short period, they became the waste industry's most important companies. I will spend some time explaining the methodology of expansion, for it bears a striking resemblance to the methods employed by organized criminals. Reformers particularly watched the giants, if for no other reason than their sheer size and, as I will show, their penchant to behave improperly.
By the 1990s, the giants had finally moved into the New York market on the heels of the government finally doing something significant about mob control. Once New York was gained, another period of intense consolidation took place. Two firms ended up controlling most of the New York market. This was a somewhat unexpected development, I suppose, for one of the charges against organized crime was that it had constructed a monopoly in New York. Thus, the criminal cartel monopoly was replaced with a two-firm oligopoly. I shall argue that the variance between the mob cartel and the giants when it comes to legal issues such as antitrust and pollution was not very large. I will take an in-depth look at the past practices of two large firms that were gobbled up in the last phase of consolidation in New York, for they were involved to one degree or another with illicit plans and actions to dump toxic waste in Third World countries. Finally, in the last section of the article, I will discuss other kinds of companies t hat routinely pollute.
Criminal Cartels in Waste
In 1957, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, chaired by Senator John McClellan, showed that organized crime had built "business empires in the private carting industry through a system of monopoly enforced by trade associations and cooperative labor unions." (2) This was another instance of organized crime's domination of certain working-class trades in New York, which included, at one time or another, cinders, cloth shrinking, construction, flower shops, the Fulton fish market, funeral homes, hod carrying, ice, kosher butchers, laundry services, newsstands, overall makers, paper hangers, taxicabs, waterfront workers, and window cleaners. (3) Among the McClellan Committee's findings after two investigations, one in Los Angeles, was the degree of ethnicity and kinship that bound racketeers in waste together. In Los Angeles, Armenian heritage appeared to be the primary connecting link, while in New York Italian roots were most significant. Among the owners of garbage firms who were identified as racketeers in the Greater New York area were Antony Ricci, Carmine Tramunti, Anthony Corallo, Nunzio and Vincent Squillante, Nicholas Ratteni, James Licari, Gennaro Mancuso, Alfred Toriello, Frank Caruso, Joseph Feola, and Anthony Carfano. Several had already acquired major reputations as organized crime felons.
It is not unusual to find a common heritage supported by sometimes-complicated kinship patterns in trades, including those associated with waste. A survey of Paris sewermen in 1979, for example, found a persistence of "hereditary endogamy." Parisian sewer workers were "more commonly introduced into the service by another relative who had been or was a sewerman--nephew, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law, and so on." (4) Of course, Parisian sewermen did not go on to own private sewer businesses and create monopolies based on criminally coercive practices.
At the base of the private sanitation criminal domains was the principle of "territorial rights," later called "property rights." This meant that whatever garbage firm first contracted with a business to pick up its rubbish had a right to that business forever. Indeed, the right extended to the location itself, no matter what happened to the original contracting party. Naturally, it was a method of dimming competition, although sometimes it was honored more in the breach than otherwise, especially given racketeers' propensity to cheat and steal from one another.
Following the McClellan Committee's work in 1957, local, state, and federal authorities pursued garbage racketeering decade after decade. Numerous investigations took place chiefly in the five boroughs of New York City, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island, in Westchester, Putnam, Orange, and Rockland Counties, just north and north west of the city, in Northern and Central New Jersey, and at times in Philadelphia. Each investigation and prosecution revealed organized crime's monopolies in private sanitation work.
The Routine Activities of Criminal Waste Enterprises
All County Environmental Service Corporation and its related firms is a template for the mob-related solid and hazardous waste companies investigated over several decades in the New York Metropolitan Area. It was a transporter of septic and hazardous wastes, a hazardous waste facility, and a devotee of illegal hazardous waste disposal. The New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee offered an historical account of All Country, its crimes, and corporate permutations from 1977 through most of 1984. (5)
For almost a decade, John, Robert, and Joseph Mongelli, together with brothers Frank and John Coppola, owned and operated the Warwick, New York, headquartered All County. (6) In addition, the Mongellis owned several waste disposal companies--I.S.A. of New Jersey, Inc., (7) Tri-State Carting, Inc., (8) Grace Disposal and Leasing, Ltd., (9) Orange County Sanitation, Inc., (10) and Round Lake Sanitation Corporation. (11) In testimony before the U.S. Congressional Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in 1980, two detective sergeants with the New Jersey State Police, Dirk Ottens and Jack Penny, presented evidence tying the Mongelli family to Mario Giganti, one of the important leaders of a major organized crime syndicate known as the "Genovese family." (12) Giganti, the Mongellis' ultimate boss, was somewhat foolishly listed on the payroll of Round Lake Sanitation in New York as a solicitor. By 1986, Louis Mongelli was described as a "reputed...Genovese crime family member." (13) In 1989, John Coppola bec ame a valued member of a New Jersey gubernatorial campaign team. (14)
The Mongellis and their associates were primarily engaged in the illicit disposal of hazardous waste. In 1977, they took over the Penaluna Road landfill in Warwick, New York, and dumped toxic waste at will, thereby threatening Greenwood Lake, a source of drinking water for around one million northern New Jersey and New York inhabitants. I.S.A. trailers were spotted unloading drums of sludge composed of oil, grease, and degreasers, while a Grace Disposal worker was on hand to flatten the empty drums. Other information clearly showed industrial waste from a nearby Ford plant was also disposed of at the landfill. Finally, the Newark Star Ledger reported that "thousands of gallons of 'solvents...paint and pigment residues...dirty thinners...still bottoms...glue residue' and other organic, toxic compounds were picked up from industries in New Jersey and slated for disposal at Warwick."(15) To cover their tracks, the criminals created phony records indicating some of these wastes went to a "safe" landfill that did not actually exist, and to another that had no record of receiving any of the toxic products, even though it probably did.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) ordered the Penaluna landfill closed in 1980. Grace Disposal went out of business and the site, reported Assemblyman Hinchey, "which is 36 acres in size and 50 feet deep, is now leaching organic chemicals and the toxic metals--cadmium, lead, and mercury--into a stream and wetland that feed Greenwood Lake." The estimated toxic leachate, according to the DEC, was 7,200 gallons per day.
In the summer of 1979, All County moved some of its operations to New Jersey, though it still maintained a significant presence in New York. It bought several storage facilities in the town of Edgewater, on the shore of the Hudson River, and another in Newark. It did not inform New Jersey authorities about the Edgewater facilities. They were discovered by New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) over a year later. By the spring of 1983, the Mongellis and their partners had a long list of hazardous waste violations in the State of New Jersey. From Edgewater, All County improperly disposed of hazardous waste at Mount Marion, New York. It continued its past practice with waste from the Mobil Chemical Company in Edison, New Jersey, carting it to Wayne, Pennsylvania. It also hooked up with a New Jersey firm, S & W Waste, that hobnobbed with racketeers and top state politicians. (16) In one deal, All County delivered PCBs to S & W even though it was not licensed to receive them. Other similar All County violations followed. For example, it delivered 3,338 gallons of supposedly flammable solvents to a facility in Virginia. Burned three days later, it was subsequently learned that the shipment was laden with PCBs. Once again, All County was not authorized to handle PCB wastes and the facility was forbidden to burn them.
The Coppolas severed their relationship with All Country in the spring of 1983. At the same moment, the Mongellis sold All County to a former employee, James Strom. He had first-class training in illegally disposing of hazardous waste, having worked at the notorious Kin-Buc landfill in Edison, New Jersey, the largest and leakiest chemical, landfill in the Northeast. It was closed in 1977 when toxic chemicals from the site were found pouring into the Raritan River, a major drinking water supply. In this ever so slightly revamped venture, Stroin was joined by David Rosenberg, who remained at his post of vice president and operations manager for the firm. It was more of the same: principally the illegal disposal of PCBs. Stroin and Rosenberg only lasted in business about eight months because they were caught sending PCBs from the same facility to the Virginia firm that had illegally burned them for the Mongellis.
All County, under the ownership of the Mongellis and Coppola, had other criminal business associates. One was RA-MAR Waste Management, owned by another Coppola brother, Ralph. This firm specialized in septic tank cleaning and waste-oil collection. RA-MAR serviced Westchester, Orange, and Rockland Counties in New York and was headquartered in New York and New Jersey. RAMAR's operating philosophy was almost a mirror image of All County's. From the autumn of 1979 to the summer of 1981, RA-MAR was cited for 20 distinct toxic waste violations in New Jersey. RA-MAR and All County worked closely together from time to time.
There was also a strong connection between RA-MAR and two large New Jersey-based waste-oil recovery companies--Noble Oil and Oil Recovery. Between May 1983 and January 1984, RA-MAR reported taking 695,000 gallons of waste oil to Noble Oil Company alone. In May 1984, the two waste-oil firms were indicted for their participation in a "massive operation in which hazardous chemical wastes were mixed with heating oil and then sold to the public." The corporate officers, Christopher Grungo (Noble Oil) and Joseph Cucinotta (Oil Recovery), were charged with conspiracy, theft, deceptive business practices, and the illegal transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. (17) Nonetheless, in May 1984, RA-MAR's permit to haul waste oil to Noble Oil and Oil Recovery was renewed by New York State's environmental agency.
"Although All County Environmental Service Corporation is not presently in operation," Assemblyman Hinchey noted back in 1984, "the Mongellis and Coppolas still operate waste disposal businesses in New York State." He added, "Round Lake Sanitation collects garbage in Orange, Ulster, and Sullivan Counties," and Round Lake and another Mongelli/Coppola business, Tri-State Carting Corporation, "are currently permitted by DEC to transport industrial wastes." ISA of New Jersey was still hauling garbage in Orange County, New York. Obviously, the Mongellis were not deterred by their past legal difficulties or by Assemblyman Hinchey's report.
The final section of the report contained Hinchey's suggestions. All of these facts, he wrote, establish the need for "significant changes in the solid waste permitting program as well as further investigation of specific corporations and individuals who are chronic violators of the Environmental Conservation Law and who associate with businesses having similar backgrounds." Hinchey wanted a tough "permit program to regulate private garbage haulers," an absolute "prohibition on the approval of permits to individuals who simultaneously operate hazardous and solid waste disposal companies," and a meaningful review of DEC's authority from the New York State Legislature to deny and revoke permits. Hinchey's ideas did not take root, at least in his estimation. His committee continued to bedevil the New York (and federal) regulators through the early 1990s with reports and hearings that proved the regulators, at least, were not paying very much attention to significant criminal polluters. (18)
In one remarkable case, Hinchey's chief investigator, Arthur John WoolstonSmith, determined that an organized crime felon, Frank Sacco, was running a landfill in the Hudson Valley town of Tuxedo, about 30 miles north of the city. Sacco had past convictions and prison sentences dating back 45 years that included an assault (stemming from an arrest for rape), extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering, robbery, dealing in stolen securities, and an escape from prison, to mention a few. The town's Justice of the Peace leased the site to Sacco. Others involved with Sacco in this deal were a former assistant district attorney, the Tuxedo police chief, and a DEC official who took bribes from Sacco and ended up as his mistress. (19) When Sacco's landfill was finally closed, shallow groundwater monitoring established arsenic, iron, manganese, and selenium at levels in violation of drinking water standards. Substantial concentrations of lead were found, as well as moderate levels of toluene, benzene, xylene, trichloro ethylene, ethylbenzene, carbon disulfide, and z-butanone. The hazardous wastes at the site were attributable to "petroleum contaminated waste soils and waste contaminated with industrial solvents." (20) The dead body discovered in the landfill was one of Sacco's employees. (21)
The Mongellis were finally run to ground by federal authorities in the 1990s, although not because there was a structured inquiry into criminal waste firms. It began because an FBI agent used to take his morning coffee in a restaurant next to a Mongelli facility. The agent became upset with the odors wafting into the coffee shop and determined to find out who or what was causing his morning nausea. That led to several queries and those eventually led to an investigation. (22) As a result, in October 1991 the Mongellis were indicted on federal racketeering charges for paying off the "Genovese crime family and trying to bribe a state environmental official." (23) Also indicted were the following Mongelli companies: Round Lake Sanitation, I.S.A. in New Jersey, Orange County Sanitation, Continental Technology, Lake Region Service Garage, and AAA Recycling. The Mongelli's, according to the FBI and Otto G. Obermaier, the U.S. attorney from the Southern District of New York, "siphoned millions of dollars in cash fro m their businesses" using "a number of intermediaries to 'launder funds' for them" for nefarious purposes. They were caught in an undercover operation offering bribes "ranging as high as $500,000 for the first year and $300,000 for each succeeding year" to a detective posing as a high-ranking DEC official. (24) They wanted another landfill. It would take several years before the case was settled and the Mongellis punished.
National Firms: Illicit Behaviors
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, three sanitation firms, one in Boston, another in Chicago, the third in Houston, began a process of rapid expansion. Their growth took place in tandem with the full blossoming of the environmental movement in the U.S., which forced the government to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and to pass important legislation dealing with toxic waste disposal during that decade. The Boston firm, SCA Services, did not quite make it to the top. It was publicly burned for its involvement with organized criminals in New Jersey and corporate leaders with exceptionally sticky fingers.
In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in 1980 and 1981, a former gangster detailed SCA's complicity with organized crime. At one hearing, the Committee summed up his testimony about SCA's expansion, noting that in its expansion in the early 1970s, it bought small garbage firms and gave the owners stock in SCA and an employment contract to continue operating their former firms as before. The gangster pointed out, somewhat inarticulately, what this meant in New Jersey: "So you have the same people that individually were controlled by organized crime into SCA." (25) SCA's reputation took an exceptional drubbing in December 1980, six days after the subcommittee's first hearing featuring the reformed felon's dissection of SCA's ties to organized crime. This time it was tied to an organized crime homicide. On December 22, "Crescent Roselle, general manager of Waste Disposal, Inc., one of SCA's largest New Jersey subsidiaries, was brutally murdered in a ga ngland-style execution," shot numerous times while sitting in his car outside his company office. (26) In the subcommittee's May 1981 hearing, a New Jersey law enforcement official blunfly stated that SCA had other subsidiaries that were managed by mobsters. (27)
The other two national (in time, international) companies, Chicago's Waste Management Inc. (WMI) and Houston's Browning-Ferris Industries (BR), fared far better than did SCA. Their chiefs quickly stepped to the level of the very rich. Waste Management and Browning-Ferris did have their bumpy moments. In the past three decades, each has pled either guilty or nolo contendere to various charges ranging from environmental malpractice to shady business activities. Each has aggressively maintained, however, that these problems were the result of simple mistakes, common industry errors, or isolated acts carried out by lower-level employees who misbehaved without the knowledge of the organization's leadership.
In a massive class-action civil case against Waste Management, Waste Management of North America, Waste Management Partners, and Browning-Ferris, filed in summer 1988, however, afar different picture emerged. There were seven named plaintiffs in this case: (1) Cumberland Farms, an operator of convenience stores throughout the United States; (2) Kirschner Brothers Oil Co., a marketer of petroleum products; (3) Dan Rosenberg, d/b/a Animal Hospital of Chester County, an individual who operates an animal hospital; (4) George Gusses, an individual who operates a business; (5) the Perry Corporation; (6) Uncle Donald's, d/b/a Huey's; and (7) Overton Pub, d/b/a East End Pub. The suit was based on alleged violations of Title 1 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. In it, the named plaintiffs and the class they represented, who "have directly purchased, in the course of their business, containerized solid waste removal and disposal services from one or more of the defendants, their wholly-owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and alleged co-conspirators," (28) were all customers of either WMI or BR. The plaintiff's attorneys alleged that WMI and BFI "engaged in an extensive pattern of anticompetitive activity across the United States," engineered and directed by their "national and regional officers." (29) In a 111-page memorandum developed in 1990 that successfully defeated a motion by the defendants for a summary judgment, the plaintiffs' attorneys started with 10 key points:
1. George Farris, BFI's chief financial officer, met with Donald Flynn, WMI's chief financial officer, and with Harold Gershowitz, WMI's senior vice president. Flynn and Gershowitz disclosed that, in view of the fact that "the environment for price increases is improving," WMI planned to implement a "'4-5%" national price increase over the next few years. This one meeting alone compels the denial of defendants' motion.
2. A government memorandum reported that criminal price-fixing by the defendants in Atlanta "can be attributed to more than overly aggressive local managers" and was "probably directed by corporate officials from the company headquarters."
3. A sworn declaration from a BFI sales manager describes how John Drury, then BFI's executive vice-president, orchestrated price-fixing activities in Atlanta.
4. A former BFI executive testified that BFI' s national director of labor relations told him to "get together with Waste Management" and end a price war in Ohio.
5. Ed Drury, BFI's national vice president, directed price fixing in the Arrowhead region (Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and several Canadian provinces). (30)
6. John Drury, BFI' s president, personally appointed John Pinto as vice president to head BFI's northeast region. Pinto had clear ties to organized crime and was subsequently indicted and pled guilty to bid rigging, price fixing, and bribery of officials.
7. John Drury, BFI's president, assigned a new district manager to Pittsburgh with instructions that the sales manager report directly to him. The district manager proceeded to engage in price-fixing and bid rigging, and periodically delivered suitcases of cash generated from these activities to Houston for use as payoffs to public officials.
8. A BFI salesperson testified that she was not permitted to solicit WMI customers and when she attended sales meetings with salespersons from other districts, learned that it was a company-wide policy.
9. Both BFI and WMI encouraged price-fixing by actively promoting employees who engaged in it. Bruce Ranck, for example, was a principal target of a state antitrust prosecution (which BFI settled for $350,000) and federal antitrust prosecution (to which BR pled guilty and paid a one million dollar fine). Notwithstanding his involvement in illegal activity, Ranck was promoted and now holds the position of executive vice-president of BFI, with responsibility for all of BFI's North American solid waste operations.
10. BFI's vice chairman and national director of marketing, Norman Myers, paid a bribe to defeat a competitor's landfill application, and then attempted to conceal this payment. (31)
Plaintiffs' attorneys went into the history of WMI, pointing out that WMI's predecessor firms belonged to the Chicago Suburban Refuse Disposal Corporation (CSRDC) through the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Nearly all the private waste companies in Chicago were part of CSRDC and operated under a system called the "Chicago Rules," which added up to precisely the same system of "property rights" discovered by Senator McClellan in his New York racketeer investigation. (32) Furthermore, it was asserted that as soon as WMI was formed in 1968 and BR in 1969, they started to buy CSRDC companies. "As members of the Chicago families became absorbed into WMI and BR," the plaintiffs' memorandum holds, "the 'Chicago rules' became a national code of conduct." (33) In terms of the structure of waste malfeasance, the mobsters in New York and New Jersey ruled through the "property rights" system and, importantly, through their control of private landfills (although illegal entry to municipal landfills through bribes has bee n a constant as well). (34) The Pennsylvania case alleges that WMI and BFI did the same. "The defendants have gone to extraordinary lengths to obtain control of landfills," the plaintiffs' counsel argued, "including the bribing of state officials." (35)
The plaintiffs' claims were further buttressed by a detailed and damning series of cases that included examples from the 1970s and 1980s. There were bribery and price-fixing cases, including a 1987 case in Ohio that alleged BFI and WMI subsidiaries engaged in price-fixing and "customer allocation" in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The companies pled guilty and each paid a one million dollar fine. (36) In the five-year period before the filing of the Pennsylvania case, it was pointed out that "federal prosecutors convened grand juries to investigate anticompetitive conduct by BFI or WMI subsidiaries in Rochester, New York; Toledo, Ohio; Orange County, California; San Diego County, California; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; Orlando, Florida; Jacksonville, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Oahu, Hawaii; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Columbus, Ohio." (37) Most of the fines were below one million dollars and had no effect on the companies' earnings.
In fact, from 1977 to 1989, WMI's gross income went from $60 million to $850 million, and BFI's zoomed from $33 million to $423 million. The chief operating officers' earnings were spectacular. From 1987 to 1989, WMI's chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and treasurer received compensation packages of $12.8 million, $16.3 million, and $25.1 million respectively. In 1989, their personal holdings in WMI stock had a value of $l17 million, $38 million, and $33 million. (38)
To drive home the plaintiffs' point that the price-fixing conspiracy was national, the memorandum claims to have "hard, documentary evidence that the highest ranking officers at BFI and WMI met to exchange information regarding future pricing." (39) Supposedly, they met under the guise of what they called "The Splinter Group of the New York Society." In their summation, plaintiffs' attorneys noted that WMI's chief financial officer and its senior vice president, and BFI's senior vice president attended these meetings. There they shared information on "future marketing plans...bids on future projects, expansion plans, anticipated capital expenditures, profit margins, and dividend policies." (40)
There is little doubt that the plaintiffs' suit had merit and it established that at least part of organized crime's methodology of control in the waste arena, so strongly and repeatedly condemned, has likely been common waste industry practice. At the center nestled "property rights/Chicago rules." Corporate expansion, on the other hand, was engineered through "predatory pricing" practices designed to drive uncooperative small firms to the wall. As Professor Howard Smith describes it, "a price is predatory if it is below the seller's otherwise profit-maximizing price and is charged for the purpose of eliminating competition in the short run and reducing competition in the long run." (41) Once that is accomplished and a monopoly, or more likely, an oligopoly achieved, prices rocket up. On October 30, 1990, Waste Management agreed to pony up $19.5 million and Browning-Ferris $30.5 million to settle the antitrust case. (42)
Cumberland Farms: Sins of the Plaintiff
The above discussion should not be taken to mean that the first named plaintiff in the case, Cumberland Farms, was itself a "clean" company. The company started life in 1938 as a roadside milk and egg business in Cumberland, Rhode Island, A Greek immigrant, Vasilios Haseotes, owned the stand and turned it into a convenience store. It eventually became the nation's third-largest convenience store chain, and the largest independent gasoline retailer in the 1980s. It reached the top after buying most of Chevron's and Gulfs northeast marketing facilities for around $350 million. This purchase gave Cumberland an additional 3,373 jobber and dealer supply contracts, and 20 terminals. (43) Clearly, this was its high point. On January 7, 1991, Cumberland was sued by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency for "unlawfully filled wetlands." (44) More bad news came that summer. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Cumberland Farms coerced "its convenience-store employees to confess to thefts they had not committed." (45) In the spring of 1992, Cumberland filed for Chapter 11 protection. (46) Several years later, Cumberland lost a suit to Goldman Sachs for stealing three million barrels of oil from Goldman's trading unit, J. Aron. This was the culmination of years of legal wrangling and payouts by Cumberland to Goldman. Earlier, Goldman had recovered approximately $41 million from Cumberland, which it accused of "unauthorized blending, burning, and outright theft of about 5% of the 57 million barrels that J. Aron processed." (47) More dreary environmental news was still to come, including Cumberland's neglectful running of an air-polluting refinery in Newfoundland. (48)
The Changing New York Market and Waste Consolidation
During the 1990s, New York prosecutors, particularly Robert Morgenthau, the New York County (Manhattan) district attorney, finally took on the task of busting organized crime's dominance in the private New York waste market. They successfully prosecuted some and sued others from the underworld of waste and their trade associations (including The Greater New York Waste Paper Association, The Kings County Trade Waste Association, the Association of Trade Waste removers of Greater New York, and The Queens County Trade Waste Association). (49) In this complicated and long investigation, BFI played an undercover role in the demise of the organized crime cartel. With BFI's permission, Morgenthau placed an agent into its New York operation. Evidence was gathered on the mob's tactics in an attempt to chase the firm from the city. BFI trucks were tailed, stolen, and disabled. Executives endured threatening phone calls and letters. (50) In June 1995, Morgenthau's 114-count indictment ended the siege. Almost two years later, BFI bought the Manhattan routes and trucks of one of the mob outfits, Five Bros. Carting Co, whose owner, Michael D'Ambrosio, was secretly recorded telling Morgenthau's undercover agent that BFI was "a bug that needed to be crushed." (51) D'Ambrosio pled guilty to "enterprise corruption." He was fined one million dollars and sentenced to prison.
The giants (BFI and WMI) had finally broken into the New York solid waste market, the nation's largest. Joining them in New York were a fast-rising firm named USA Waste Services and a smaller conglomerate, Eastern Environmental Services, with deep ties to the largely criminal New Jersey scene. Though some in New York talked about stasis in the newly consolidated market, remarkable changes were on the way.
The most stunning development was a merger between WMI and USA Waste. In 1998, "old" WMI was "acquired by smaller rival USA Waste Services Inc. for stock valued at about $13.5 billion." Although the new company would still be called Waste Management, it would be run by the leaders of USA Waste, with its main corporate office in Houston. (52) The result of the logic of consolidation, cost reductions were achieved by consolidating routes and sacking "redundant" employees. (53) The move was carried out by USA Waste's chairman, John Drury, the former BFI president who was identified as a key director of the long price-fixing conspiracy with WMI in the Cumberland Farms et al. case.
Consolidation's Odd Twists and Turns: The Return of the Irrepressible
In 1990, Drury quit BFI in a disagreement over policy issues. Three years later, he was asked to head USA Waste. He took the post in 1994 and mandated "no recycling, no overseas ventures." (54) Under Drury, USA Waste was on the prowl for other waste companies. In 1995, it gobbled up Chambers Development, "which had 50 collection operations in eight Atlantic seaboard states." The following year it bought out a California-based firm that also operated in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, and Florida. Around the same time, USA Waste announced it would buy another waste conglomerate, United Waste Systems, based in Connecticut. The Connecticut firm had purchased five waste collection businesses and two transfer stations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania the year before. (55) On the last day of 1998, Drury bought out Eastern Environmental Services. (56) Now only two major competitors remained "in the multibillion-dollar trash disposal market in New York City and...in cities in Pennsylvania and Florida," said a somewhat concerned Justice Department, which nevertheless allowed the deal to go through after Eastern and Waste Management shed some companies in several states. (57) Eastern had just acquired several allegedly "former" mob trash firms in New Jersey, and two Florida firms. One beneficiary of the Waste Management-Eastern deal was an emerging trash conglomerate, Republic Services, headed by Wayne Huizenga, who was responsible for the original creation of Waste Management in Chicago. Huizenga, like Drury, had taken time off from garbage. However, he spent his off time creating Blockbuster Video, the nation's largest video rental company, and buying a professional sports team or two, a stadium here and there. Republic picked up some of the discarded firms and was well on its way to becoming another major player in the wildly consolidating waste world.
USA Waste: Two Sleazy Background Issues
USA Waste was pushed into the very big leagues of waste, before its deal with Waste Management, through its purchase of United Waste Systems, which came to life in 1989 under the aggressive leadership of its 33-year-old chairman and CEO, Bradley S. Jacobs. (58) By 1992, United had landfills and composting and recycling centers in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Mississippi, Michigan, and Connecticut. Despite these activities, it had lost $4.5 million since 1990. Nonetheless, some observers thought its prospects were promising, for United raised $36 million in new capital in 1992 through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of its stock. It planned to spend the money on five new acquisitions. (59)
1. The Meditative Bradley Jacobs
Chairman Jacobs' background was somewhat baffling. According to the Hartford Courant (Connecticut) newspaper, Jacobs' CEO experience started in 1979, at the age of 23, with Amerex Oil Associates, which had its corporate offices in Morristown, New Jersey. (60) From 1984 to July 1989, he headed up an international trading company based in England, Hamilton Resources (UK) Ltd. (61) What Jacobs did for, or with, Amerex or Hamilton Resources is not noted in any published account of his background. It seems there was much to hide, for he had worked with a cast of Europeans and Americans suspected of illicitly selling toxic waste to the impoverished West African country of Benin, making night runs of toxic waste to other West African countries, and likely selling oil to South Africa while the U.N.-sponsored embargo of oil to Pretoria was running.
To attempt to unravel this suspected misbehavior and place it into perspective, one must go back to a company called Pan Ocean Oil, which started in 1970 with $16 million in cash. Six years later, after it finally hit pay dirt drilling in the North Sea, Marathon Oil bought it for $260 million. (62) In the extremely complex structure of an oil major, Pan Ocean's ownership had been in the hands of Marathon's wholly owned subsidiary, Interocean Oil. This entity became, or was subdivided into a firm called Interocean Oil (Nigeria). On November 1,1982, all of Interocean's stock was sold and its interest in what was by then Pan Ocean Oil (Nigeria) was "transferred" to Impex Ltd., a firm incorporated in Anguilla, a small and somewhat notorious island nation in the British West Indies. (63) Anguilla's notoriety is based on its penchant for allowing a host of criminals, many in the narcotics business, to establish phony banks, some no more than trailers in goat pastures.
Pan Ocean next turned up as a series of interrelated firms: Panoco Group, PNOcean (supposedly with offices in New York and Houston), Panoco International, Panoco (Geneva), Panoco (Nigeria), and Panoco (Benin). To muddy the waters a little more, a Panoco entity was affiliated with the United States Oil Co., based in New York, whose director also ran Panoco (Geneva), which, it was reported, "operates in Nigeria through Pan Ocean Oil (Nigeria). (64) The Geneva-based Panoco, and I presume all the rest including Impex in Anguilla, were directed by an Italian, Vittorio Fabbri, who had an office at 375 Park Avenue, New York. Standing behind Fabbri as the owner of most of the above entities was supposedly another Italian named Bellini.
British journalists from Box Television tie Bradley Jacobs to this group, since Fabbri supposedly introduced him to the pleasures and potential profits of selling European and American hazardous waste to Beam. In 1985, Panoco (Geneva) persuaded the Benin authorities to scuttle a contract with Saga Petroleum, a private Norwegian oil company, and instead to contract with Panoco (Beam). (65) It was the beginning of a very convoluted series of deals, unraveled principally by Box reporter Adam Kemp, that ultimately led to Jacobs. Kemp found that the Republic of Benin agreed to receive about five million tons of toxic waste a year for 10 years for a "mere two dollars and 50 cents a ton." The contact was signed with a Gibraltar company named SESCO. Looking for SESCO led Kemp to London's elegant Eaton Square and Hamilton Resources, which was listed in the phone directory as a "Local Listening Post for Crude Oil Market." A little sleuthing turned up an item from Greenpeace, which accused Hamilton of involvement in a "possible dumping deal" with impoverished Guinea Bissau. Hamilton issued a denial stating, "our company has never made any attempt to build a landfill" there. Kemp went to Companies House in London, where he discovered that almost all the shares of Hamilton Resources were owned by Hamilton Resources (Gibraltar). Moreover, Hamilton and SESCO used the same registered office, Finsbury Management, in Gibraltar. Documents showed that SESCO and Hamilton (Gibraltar) had appointed, at the same time, two other firms as directors--"Amwell Servicing and Tikka Overseas Amwell Services, in the British Virgin Islands." A check of documents in Washington, D.C., revealed SESCO correspondence signed by Josephine Mandel, apparently a company director. She subsequently appeared as the company secretary of Hamilton Resources UK Ltd. Hamilton's records listed her address as "Lima, Peru." Not unexpectedly, inquiries in Lima to find her were fruitless.
London's Hamilton Resources listed a Jill Aldridge as another director. She had an address in Holland that turned out to be a Transcendental Meditation study center run by followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Aldridge had lived there, but left a few months before Kemp arrived in Holland looking for her. Box Television reportedly found her working at Roydon Hall, the "cult's headquarters" in Kent. Bradley Jacobs was also known as a devotee of Transcendental Meditation. Kemp called Jacobs, who admitted he knew the name Jill Aldridge and then rang off.
Benin was the last stop in this puzzling investigation. Beam's self-styled Marxist President, Mathieu Kerekou, had signed a contract with SESCO's representative, Lamia Catche, for a 10-year toxics deal. In other Beam government documents, however, Mine. Catche is "named as Executive Vice President of the Group Hamilton Resources." Kemp gathered increasing evidence that proved Bradley Jacobs had put together a three-part transnational toxic waste dumping scheme. First, a network of waste brokers was created to scour factories in Europe for product; second, SESCO was formed to do the same in the United States; and third, MJ Carter Associates was retained to help plan a huge landfill in Benin.
The waste intended for Benin was described as "very, very volatile solvents, which would fairly readily burst into flame." There were also herbicides, methylene chloride, and degreasing solutions made of "organo-chloride compounds" that were guaranteed to evaporate under the African sun and thus pose a serious health hazard to landfill workers and the many people living on the perimeter of the site. Benin' s alarmed health minister, Andre Atchade, wrote the following to President Kerekou: "These schemes are disastrous for our country and constitute a threat to the safety of our land and people.... We should remember Chernobyl." The president fired him and then placed him under house arrest for his audacity. Jacobs first denied having anything to do with the project. He told Kemp, "you know, it's a farce; it's like a total farce." Later, however, he admitted his involvement.
2. Eastern Environmental: The Saga of the Unwelcome Ash
Another USA Waste purchase, Eastern Environmental, had a problem stemming from the dumping of toxic waste in the Third World. In 1988, between 2,000 and 5,000 tons of Philadelphia's toxic incinerator ash were dumped on the beaches of the Haitian coastal town of Gonaives. (66) The ash was the property of a waste disposal outfit, Joseph Paolino and Sons. That firm had taken over a six million dollar contract to dispose of Philadelphia's ash, which "contained lead, cadmium, barium, arsenic, mercury, dioxin, and cyanide." (67) Paolino hired Amalgamated Shipping of the Bahamas, which engaged the ship Khian Sea to carry the ash somewhere in the Caribbean. The ship left port on August 1986 with approximately 14,000 tons of ash. It tried to unload in the Bahamas but failed. Then it spent almost two years in limbo trying to find some Caribbean country that would make the deal. In the last week of October 1987, Haiti's Department of Commerce granted permission for the ship to unload on the beach at Gonaives. Within a few days, however, the Haitian government, in particular the Minister of Commerce, announced a change in policy and wished to cancel the permit. It was too late. The ship was gone and part of Philadelphia's ash lay on the beach. (68)
About 10,000 tons remained on board when the Khian Sea slipped out of Haitian waters. The ship tried repeatedly to find a country to accept the cargo. It underwent suspicious name changes and sailed to the Mediterranean to try several spots, including Suez. Finally, somewhere between Suez and Singapore, it offloaded the rest of Philadelphia's ash.
Years later, the New York Trade Waste Commission, a new regulatory agency put in place by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help combat mobster control of the waste industry, found a connection between Eastern Environmental and Joseph Paolino and Sons, and thus the toxic ash. The head of Eastern and its largest shareholder is Louis D. Paolino, one of Joseph's sons. The old man had died in 1984, but the firm continued. In 1991, it was charged with various crimes related to cheating its workers out of wages and benefits. In 1995, it was fined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for having radioactive material without a permit. After that, it seems to have disappeared. The Trade Waste Commission determined that Eastern would not be licensed to operate in the city until it helped to clean up Gonaives. Although everyone involved seems to deny a connection between the Paolino company and Eastern Environmental, beyond the genetic, Eastern finally agreed to pay two-thirds of the costs to remove the ash from Haiti. (69)
3. Serious Strains in the Marriage
The waste industry is so volatile that centralization soon began to crack a bit. At the turn of the millennium, the new Waste Management filed a lawsuit concerning its $1.3 billion purchase of Eastern Environmental, which it was alleged, "overstated its profits." (70) John Drury, who by August 1999 had become Waste Management's former chairman and CEO, was also named in the suit, as was Rodney Proto, WMI's former president, sacked at the same time Drury retired. Drury, who was quite ill, and Proto were thought to have "personally" benefited from "deals with Eastern's chairman, Louis Paolino." In this alleged scam, in the autumn of 1995, Paolino, then a vice-president of USA Waste, joined with several others to buy out Eastern Environmental; they took control of Eastern in 1966 and began "a systematic accounting fraud which caused the operating performance of Eastern to be regularly and materially overstated." (71)
Two main methodologies have long characterized the U.S. waste industry: property rights and predatory pricing. (72) Nearly all the firms, from those controlled by organized crime to the Giants, have been guilty of one or both of these offenses. In addition, they have all been guilty of recklessly dumping toxic waste into leaky landfills and faulty incinerators. (73) Every one who understands the waste industry knows this. Even a generally sympathetic story in Fortune magazine about BFI noted that its reputation in the 1980s was odious. The magazine described the company as "entangled in price-fixing and pollution cases from Louisiana to Niagara Falls." A New York State congressional report held BFI's methods to be virtually the same as those used by "organized-crime carters." (74) This statement was only partially accurate, however. The Giants were addicted to national and international expansion--Waste Management operated in Saudi Arabia as early as the 1970s--while the sway of the various crime cartels in waste was local or regional. The few mob firms seeking landfills much further afield were usually knocked about by citizen's environmental groups and, from time to time, state law enforcement. Local papers, often in rural Midwestern or Appalachian counties, had a field day printing stories about how the New York Mafia was invading their town or county. The value of a "bad reputation" was not very useful when it came to expansion outside the Northeast, with an occasional exception.
The organized crime companies did not go public; they sold no stock. Their companies were, to put it mildly, closely held. This was at least partially done to keep their books from the prying eyes of outsiders. Although some profited greatly from their business acumen, they also had a penchant for stealing worker's benefits from their controlled Teamster locals. Thus, they could never match the kind of capital that the Giants routinely raised. Waste Management and BFI were public companies; their stock was traded on the Exchange. The gangsters' forte was more along the line of extortion, and they lived in a perilous environment of their own.
The Giants were ruthless in their zeal for growth. They were very aggressive when accused of criminal behavior and were not at all reluctant to sue critics for besmirching their good names. Their executives did not have "rap sheets." Predatory pricing was their main methodology and that meant antitrust violations. No one, except the victims, equated those sorts of activities as examples of real racketeering. Even in the two examples of the past flirtations of USA's affiliates with Third World despots to unload their toxic products at bargain basement prices, little reaction was aroused. Indeed, scarcely anyone in the U.S. knew anything about Jacobs' activities in Benin, his Gibraltar company, or his alter ego SESCO. Moreover, no one in authority raised much of an eyebrow over what must have been significant connections between Eastern's current officers and the firm that dumped ash in Haiti, so long as Eastern paid a large portion of the cleanup. (75)
(1.) Originally presented at the Second International Conference for Criminal Intelligence Analysis, "Assessing Tomorrow's Challenges Today," sponsored by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, National Criminal Intelligence Service, Interpol, London, England, March 1999.
(2.) U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, Hearing: Organized Crime in the New York Private Carting Industry (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1957: 6672).
(3.) Alan A. Block and William J. Chambliss, Organizing Crime (New York: Elsevier, 1981: 14-15).
(4.) Donald Reid, Paris Sewers and Sewermen: Realities and Representations (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991: 169-170).
(5.) Maurice D. Hinchey, Chairman, the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, Criminal Infiltration of the Toxic and Solid Waste Disposal Industries in New York State (Albany, NY: September 13, 1984); also Alan A. Block (ed.), The Business of Crime: A Documentary Study of Organized Crime in the American Economy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991: Chapter 7; 175-196).
(6.) John R. Coppola, Vice President, All County Service Corporation, "Application to Dispose of Solid Waste at the Orange County Solid Waste Disposal Facilities" (October 24, 1974).
(7.) New York State, Senate Select Committee on Crime (July 7, 1980: 518); Robert Mongelli, I.S.A. in New Jersey, Town of Wallkill, "Application for Garbage and Refuse Permit" (December 13, 1981, January 16,1984); Joseph Mongelli, I.S.A. in New Jersey, Town of Wallkill, "Application for Garbage and Refuse Permit" (1983).
(8.) See Vic Wehnan, Environmental Conservation officer, to David Archibald, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Memorandum (May 12, 1980).
(9.) Robert A. Mongelli, Grace Disposal and Leasing, Ltd., New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, "Application for the Operation of a Solid Waste Management Facility" (February 18, 1978).
(10.) Robert Mongelli, Orange County Sanitation, Town of Wallkill, "Application for Garbage and Refuse Permit" (December 22, 1980, December 17, 1981, 1983, January 16, 1984).
(11.) Joseph Mongelli, President, Round Lake Sanitation Corporation, "Application to Dispose of Solid Waste at the Orange County Solid Waste Disposal Facilities" (August 2, 1974); Robert Mongelli, Round Lake Sanitation Corporation, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, "Application for Septic Tank Cleaner and Industrial Waste Collector Permit" (July 22, 1983).
(l2.) U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (December 16, 1980: 63-64).
(13.) See "The Tuxedo Story: A Report from Chairman Maurice D. Hinchey on Illegal Disposal of Wastes in the Hudson Valley, Pre-Hearing Report of August 30, 1989" (p.4).
(14.) Ibid.: 3.
(15.) Gordon Bishop, Sunday Star-Ledger (April 8, 1979, Section 1:18).
(16.) See my testimony on S & W in "On the Need for the Waste Industry Disclosure Law" (Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Conservation Committee, Hearings on House Bill 2228, The Waste Industry Disclosure Law, February 15, 1990).
(17.) Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, State of New Jersey v. Christoper R. Grungo et al., Defendants, Criminal Action XXVII, Law Division Docket No. SGJ-114-83-3, Burlington County Courthouse, Mount Holly, New Jersey (April 22, 1985).
(18.) A few of the many investigations Hinchey conducted can be found in "A Public Hearing into the Illegal Disposal of Wastes in the Hudson Valley" (September 19, 1989); "A Private Hearing into the Involvement of Organized Crime in the Waste Disposal Industry" (September 6, 1989); "A Public Hearing into the Illegal Disposal of Wastes and Landfill Problems in the Columbia County Area" (March 14, 1990); and "Illegal Dumping in New York State: Who's Enforcing the Law?" (February 6, 1991).
(19.) See the report from Chairman Maurice D. Hinchey to the New York State Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation Concerning illegal Disposal of Wastes in the Hudson Valley (February 6, 1991, Appendix C) for Sacco's arrest record, and "The Tuxedo Story," PreHearing Report of August 30, 1989 (p. 7).
(20.) Ibid.: 53-54.
(21.) Ibid.: 6.
(22.) Author's interviews with FBI Special Agent Jerry W. Hanford, the coffee drinker, working out of the Bureau's White Plains Office.
(23.) Lisa W. Foderaro, "New York Trash Haulers Charged with Bribery and Payoffs to Mob" (New York Times, October 9,1991).
(24.) United States Attorney, Southern District of New York, "Outline of Indictment: United States of America v, Mongelli" (Press Release, October 8, 1991).
(25.) U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Report: Hazardous Waste Enforcement (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, December 1982: 21).
(26.) Ibid.: 22.
(27.) Ibid.: 24.
(28.) United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, "Cumberland Farms. Inc. et al. v. Browning-Ferris industries, inc. et al., Master File Civil Action No. 87-37 17, 120 F. R. D. 6421 1988 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7484; filed July 21, 1988.
(29.) United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Cumberland Farms, Inc., et al., Plaintiffs v. Browning Ferris Industries, Inc., et al., Defendants, Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Master File, No. 87-3717, page 1.
(30.) Ibid.: 53.
(31.) Ibid.: 2-3.
(32.) Ibid.: 6.
(33.) Ibid.: 7.
(34.) See, for example, Brian Larkin, "Probers Charge Bribes Opened Landfill's Gates," Staten Island Advance (June 16, 1994:1).
(35.) United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, page 22.
(36.) Ibid.: 13.
(37.) Ibid.: 15.
(38.) Ibid.: 16.
(39.) Ibid.: 23.
(40.) Ibid.: 94.
(41.) Howard Smith, "Hidden Graves: Predatory Pricing and Organized Crime" (Ph.D. dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, 1999: 107).
(42.) Larry Carpenter, Undersheriff, Ventura County, California, Sheriff's Department, "Waste Management Report" (Attachment 4, September 20, 1991: 5).
(43.) J. Richard Shaner, "Cumberland Farms: Is It Changing Identities?" (National Petroleum News 80,11, October 1988: 66).
(44.) "Justice Department Sues Cumberland Farms for Wetlands Violations" (Business Wire, January 7, 1991).
(45.) Associated Press (August 20, 1991).
(46.) National Petroleum News (April 1993).
(47.) James Norman, "Goldman Wins $21 Mil Suit over Cumberland Theft" (Platt's Oilgram News (75,98, May 21, 1997:1).
(48.) Peter Gullage, "Come-By-Chance Refinery Vows to Cut Emissions" (Platt's Oilgram News, August 5, 1998).
(49.) Superior Court of the State of New York, County of New York, Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney of New York County, Plaintiff-Claiming Authority, against Frank Alloca, VA Sanitation Inc., et al., Order to Show Cause and Temporary Rest raining Order with Supporting Papers (CPLR ART. 13-A), June 19, 1995.
(50.) Philip S. Angell, "Cleaning Up New York" (Infrastructure Finance, May 1, 1997).
(51.) Steve Daniels, "BFI Purchases Midsize New York City Hauler" (Waste News, March 17, 1997: 2).
(52.) "Houston-Based USA Waste Services to Acquire Waste Management" (Duluth News Tribune, March 12, 1998).
(54.) Forbes (June 2, 1997).
(55.) Solid Waste Report (May 11, 1995).
(56.) "Waste Management Completes Eastern Deal" (Greenwire, January 4,1999).
(57.) See the Miami Herald and the Associated Press (January 1,1999).
(58.) Jim Roberts, "Investors Welcome Micro Warehouse, United Waste IPOs" (Fairfield County Business Journal, December 28, 1992, Sec. 1:1).
(60.) State of Delaware, 1982 Annual Franchise Tax Report, Amerex Oil Associates, Inc., File Number 8590-3 8, filed February 3, 1983.
(61.) "Corporate Facts: United Waste Systems Inc." (Hartford Courant, September 25, 1995, Business Weekly Section: 4).
(62.) "Nigeria" (Platt's Oilgram News, February 28, 1983:3).
(63.) "Companies" (Oil and Gas Journal, March 7,1983:46).
(64.) Journal of Commerce (December 28, 1987).
(65.) "Saga Protests Benin Ouster: Creditors Losing $60 Million in Offshore Venture" (Platt's Oilgram News, September 16, 1985: 1).
(66.) James Ridgeway, with Gaelle Drevet, "Dumping on Haiti: How Thousands of Tons of Philadelphia's Toxic Waste Ended Up on a Haitian Beach and What the City of New York Is Doing About It" (The Village Voice, January 13. 1998).
(70.) "Waste Management Lawsuit Alleges Fraud by Acquired Firm" (Philadelphia Inquirer, January 1,2000, at www.phillynews.com/inquirer/2000/Jan01/business/EASTERNo1.htm).
(72.) In a twist, BFI's fear of predatory pricing actually haunted its first attempt to enter the Greater New York market. In Suffolk County, Long Island, three towns--Babylon, Huntington, and Islip--joined together in the 1970s to create the Multi-Town Solid Waste Authority. The goal was to develop a resource-recovery facility. BR applied to construct the facility and made the short list in 1980. BFI's inclusion likely stemmed from the activities of Anthony A. Boccaccio, who was an engineer with Grumman at the same time he worked in "public relations" for Multi-Town. The Grumman connection was important, for Grumman's Energy Systems held the license for the German VKW mass-burning technology system. Grumman decided to close down this division and sold the license to BFI. The royalty agreement gave Grumman the right to receive a fixed percentage on any contract BFI successfully negotiated using the license. Had this project worked, Grumman would have earned over two million dollars. In 1982, Multi-Town selec ted BFI's subsidiary, Energy Systems, to build the plant. The entire project was destroyed by political corruption in various quarters, although it took Anthony Noto, who became a Babylon Town supervisor in 1982, to finally do it in. Without bothering to notify anyone, Noto hired an Albany firm with no prior experience to provide the technology for the plant. Noto failed at every important task and made BFI "spend thousands of dollars in overtime for engineers, attorneys, and accountants." There is no doubt that Long Island's organized crime carters were afraid of BFI's reputation for predatory pricing, which they believed had just been employed in upstate New York. They made sure it would not get any kind ofa stake on Long Island. State of New York, Commission of Investigation, The Multi-Town Solid Waste Management Authority and the Crisis of Solid Waste Management (270 Broadway, New York, NY, October 1984: 60, 73).
(73.) See Alan A. Block, "Into the Abyss of Environmental Policy: The Battle over the World's Largest Commercial Hazardous Waste Incinerator Located in East Liverpool, Ohio" (Journal of Human Justice, November 1993).
(74.) Richard Behar, "Talk About Tough Competition: How Bill Ruckelshaus Is Taking on the New York Mob" (Fortune, January 15, 1996: 93).
(75.) Many other toxic waste polluting companies exist beyond those mentioned here. The oil industry seems to breed them. Some important waste oil firms, fuel oil distributors, retail gas and diesel station owners, and owners of fuel terminals have been major-league polluters. Many sell product laced with flammable toxics, while others pollute through negligence or deliberately to keep costs down. Additionally, ship-based oil pollution spreads a host of toxic chemicals. There are some 100 to 200 identified carcinogens in every 10,000pounds of oil released into the oceans. Spills have the immediate effect of killing waterfowl and mammals. Even more insidiously dangerous, the carcinogens disrupt the food chain because oil pollution kills the coastal phytoplankton that feed commercial fish, thereby causing a reduction on in harvests. The organisms that survive "introduce the oil toxins into the food chain as they are consumed." See Paul S. Dempsey, "Compliance and Enforcement in Environmental Law: Oil Pollution of the Marine Environment by Ocean Vessels" (New Journal of International Law and Business 6, 1984: 459-460).
Cruise ships are notorious oil polluters. Their crimes were uncovered this decade. In 1994, the U.S. Coast Guard detected a huge oil slick trailing after the world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas. A four-year investigation determined "a fleet-wide conspiracy within Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. to save millions of dollars by dumping oily wastes into the sea" (Ibid.). Even after Royal Caribbean paid a nine million dollar fine in June 1998 and said it would never happen again, it did happen one month later. Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress dumped oily wastes and attempted to hide the fact by creating false records. To defend itself, Royal Caribbean's lawyers boldly claimed, "a private company doing business in the United States was immune from criminal prosecution because its ships fly foreign flags" (Douglas Franz, "Gaps in Sea Laws Shield Pollution by Cruise Lines," New York Times, January 3, 1999: 1). Royal Caribbean's ships are registered in Liberia. Helping Royal Caribbean make this case were former U.S. Attorneys General Benjamin R. Civiletti and Elliot L. Richardson, Royal Caribbean also took on board William K. Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency. He was hired, Royal Caribbean said with a straight face, to help implement a new environmental compl iance program (Ibid.). Civiletti and Richardson should have been chagrined when the Nordic Express discharge was discovered, as it followed their courtroom performances in defense of Liberian registry (Ibid.).
ALAN BLOCK is Professor of Jewish Studies and Administration of Justice, Pennsylvania State University, 103 Weaver Bldg., University Park, PA 16802 (e-mail: email@example.com).
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Block, Alan A.|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2002|
|Previous Article:||"Attac": a global social movement?|
|Next Article:||Environmental harm and the political economy of consumption.|