Federal and State agents from the IRS, FBI, PA Attorney General’s office and Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) raided Minuteman Environmental Services (MES) around 9am on Wednesday (May 29, 2013).
MES is located at the Milton Industrial Park in Milton, PA, and has contracts to haul gas drilling waste. Gov. Tom Corbett visited the Milton facility on Feb. 8, 2012, calling the Minuteman operation an “American success story.” On Feb. 28, the Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce honored Minuteman with its “Business of the Year” award.
The Lewisburg home of Brian Bolus, Minuteman’s CEO, was also raided.
Agents were at the plant for more than 9 hours and seen carrying out boxes and boxes of presumably files, documents and other records. Reports also stated agents were combing over every inch of the plant.
Employees trying to get to work were stopped, frisked and vehicles searched. A few employees inside the facility were handcuffed with zip ties. They were told it was for their own protection. (What’s up with that???? Protection from what and why???)
Meanwhile, outside, agents and workers from the Milton Regional Sewer Authority and agents were seen opening up and inspecting sewers near the MES facility.
Local News Reports:
- WBRE – Agents Raid Milton Area Plant | By Andy Mehalshick | May 29, 2013
- WNEP – Environmental Plant Raided In Milton | by Jim Hamill | May 29, 2013
None of the involved agencies would comment on why they were there and only said they would be there awhile due to an ongoing investigation. Minuteman Environmental Services also declined to comment.
NOT THE FIRST TIME FOR MES
In 2011, MES was fined $7,000 by DEP for dumping and storing waste without DEP approval at sites in Green Township, Clinton County, and White Deer Township, Union County. DEP stated the facilities held waste from natural gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale.
DEP was tipped off by a citizen’s complaint in July 2011. MES received a notice from DEP in August 2011 requiring the removal and proper disposal of the waste.
Ten containers of gas-well drill cutting waste were found at the Green Township site, and 7 at White Deer. Six of the White Deer containers held plastic lines, and one had liquid from a gas well spill.
A pile of waste on the ground was also found in White Deer.
A follow-up inspection in September confirmed that MES had complied.
David Spandoni, DEP Spokesperson, would not comment on whether DEP had the authority to shut down businesses which have these types of violations. Spandoni did say “We have no intention of shutting this [MES] business down.”
According to information on Minuteman’s website, the company is “a participant in good standing” with the PEC Premier Contractor Assistance Program.
PEC/Premier Safety Management is a Mandeville, La., company that offers training and consulting in complying with safety and environmental regulations. Its Contractor Assistance Program aims to keep companies up to date on safety and industry and regulatory standards.
A call to PEC/Premier for comment was not returned by press time Monday.
The fine was paid to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, which helps to fund cleanups across the state, the press release said.
SO MANY QUESTIONS
The general assumption as to why the raid is it involves disposal of natural gas waste as suggested by agents and local workers inspecting sewer drains.
It is curious that if this is all there is to the story, why are IRS and FBI agents involved? Why were boxes and boxes of records confiscated, employees frisked, some handcuffed, vehicles searched and Bolus’s home also raided?
Surely, if it was just dumping, DEP could handle slapping MES on the wrist. If it is just about dumping, perhaps on scale large enough to attract Federal attention, where’s the EPA? Wouldn’t they have sent an agent or two along?
What’s the IRS’s part in all of this if it is just a case of dumping?
Stock up on popcorn, rumor has it this is bigger than just MES.
May 30 UPDATE: MES BLAMES FORMER EMPLOYEES
© 2013 by Dory Hippauf