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Corporations sentenced for hazardous waste violations following Specialized Fibers blaze in Corning – Red Bluff Daily News

RED BLUFF — Tehama County District Attorney Matt Rogers announced Thursday Bucky Lee, Inc. and Omega Waste Management, Inc. were convicted and sentenced for criminal violations of the Hazardous Waste Control Act and failure to establish and implement a hazardous material release response and inventory plan.

Each corporation was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $1.7 million, which was suspended pending the successful completion of probation, according to a press issued by the District Attorney’s Office Thursday. The probation conditions include full compliance with California hazardous materials laws at all facilities. They will be required to identify hazardous waste and hazardous materials at all of their locations and remove all hazardous and toxic contamination from those sites.

Firefighters battle a blaze at Specialized Fibers in Corning July 19, 2018. (DN file)

The case arose from a multiple-day fire that broke out July 18, 2018 at Specialized Fibers, the Omega Waste Management facility on South Avenue in Corning, the release said. Bucky Lee, Inc. is the owner of the property on which the waste management facility was located.

After the fire was extinguished, an investigation into the fire and the materials stored at the facility was conducted, the release said. During the investigation, it was discovered hazardous materials were illegally stored at the facility.

The hazardous materials consisted of paint sludge, used motor oil, acetylene tanks, oxygen compressed gas tanks and various petroleum products. Some of the oxygen tanks exploded during the fire.

“Had the hazardous materials not been present, or had it been properly documented, first responders would have been able to more safely navigate the premises and develop a more effective plan to combat the fire,” the release said.

The hazardous materials and waste were illegally stored and not reported to the county as required by law. As such, they posed a significant risk to the health and safety of all first responders at the fire, the release said.

The District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint in Tehama County Superior Court against Robert O’Connor and the corporations he controlled, Bucky Lee and Omega Waste Management.

O’Connor died during the course of the case and his wife, Karen O’Connor, was the sole remaining corporate officer. She entered a guilty plea for one felony count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste and a misdemeanor count for failing to establish and implement a hazardous waste release response plan and inventory.

Rogers deputized Special Deputy District Attorney Bob Nichols to prosecute the case on behalf of the county.

A concurrent civil lawsuit is ongoing, overseen by Special Deputy District Attorney Matt Maclear.

Robert O’Connor was convicted of felony unlawful disposal of hazardous waste in 2003 in Tehama County, the release said. The state had previously fined omega Waste $40,500 for hazardous waste violations related to the sale of former pesticide containers.

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