Perhaps one of the highest costs you deal with in your business is fees for disposing of unwanted materials. This may be especially expensive if your business deals with old tires, large buckets of paint or other hazardous items. While residents with a few tires or a limited number of half-full paint cans may have no trouble with disposal regulations, a business dealing in tons of restricted materials may face thousands in fees for proper disposal.
Unfortunately, some may take a short cut and dump their materials illegally. If you are facing charges for environmental crimes related to illegal dumping, you are not looking at a fine for littering. Depending on the type and amount of materials, you may be facing federal charges that can lead to severe consequences if a court convicts you.
Is it really hurting anyone?
Environmental crimes are a form of white-collar crime if the waste pollutes public waterways, harms the land or places the health of others at risk. Ohio seems to have a growing issue with residents and non-residents dropping illegal items at designated recycling areas. This can include furniture and appliances. However, business owners who dump paint into streams, bury hundreds of used tires or leave boxes of medical waste in the woods may cause damage on a larger scale, including:
- Polluting surface water, groundwater and wells
- Contaminating soil, which can affect neighboring properties due to run-off
- Producing breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitos
- Subjecting unsuspecting people to infectious diseases
- Costing property owners who must clean up the mess
While some business owners may think they are saving money by covertly dumping illegal items, they may end up facing life-changing consequences from a variety of agencies including county waste disposal departments, environmental crimes agencies, health departments, law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the alleged dump site, and perhaps state and federal agencies such as the EPA.
If convicted of a felony, you may face thousands in fines, substantial jail time and other penalties that may negatively affect your personal life, your business and your reputation. It is possible that authorities have wrongly traced an illegal dump to your business or that other circumstances can exonerate you from the charges. You have a great deal at stake when dealing with accusations of environmental crimes. Having legal counsel as early as possible is a wise move.