U.S. v. Roach

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 07-08-2015
  • Case #: 14-50260
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Korman for the Court; Chief Judge Thomas and Circuit Judge Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

Under 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(2)(A), a person who “knowingly stores any hazardous waste without a permit” is criminally liable for that offense. Furthermore, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, “storage” means the containment of hazardous waste not disposed of.

Robert Roach owned and directed the All Metals Processing Company (“AMP”), an electroplating business involved in hazardous waste management. After seventeen years of conducting business in the same location, the successor in interest of the property filed an unlawful detainer action against AMP for defaulted rent payments. A stipulated judgment was formed between the defendant and landlord, in which AMP would vacate and “remove toxic material” from and clean up the premise within one month; however, Roach and AMP did not do so. Instead Roach vacated the premises but left containers containing hazardous materials on the premise – some leaking and others still sealed. The district court found Roach guilty of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) by storing and causing the storage of hazardous waste without a permit and sentenced him to imprisonment for one year and one day. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit determined whether the defendant disposed of the containers in the facility by “abandoning” the containers pursuant to the language of the RCRA, specifically the words “storage” and “disposal,” consequently relieving the defendant of the criminal charges against him. One who “knowingly stores hazardous waste without a permit” is criminally liable for that offense. Although Roach and AMP abandoned the facility, the containers remained on the premise. Thus, Roach violated the express terms of the RCRA and Roach’s conviction was affirmed. AFFIRMED.

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