An Anchorage man has pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of more than 204,000 pounds of hazardous waste, federal authorities said Friday.
William Duran Vizzerra Jr. entered his plea as part of an agreement in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each day of the violation. Sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 14.
The Department of Justice said in a statement that he was president of Precision Pavement Markings Inc., a road and parking lot painting and striping business that operated from a storage lot at 200 N. Post Road from 2006 to 2009.
He stored hazardous waste, including methyl methacrylate paint and toluene used to flush nozzles and paint sprayers.
On Nov. 1, 2009, he quit paying rent on the storage lot, effectively abandoning 321 55-gallon drums, 179 five-gallon pails and two 200-gallon totes of hazardous waste, authorities said.
A year later, someone reported the abandoned drums to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
An investigation found some of the smaller containers stacked two-high on a trailer, others on the ground. Some of the storage containers dated back to a previous paving business owned by Vizzerra.
Authorities said many of the containers were rusted or bulging and many were marked "waste" or "flammable."
Hazardous waste can be disposed of only at licensed facilities. It cost the lot owner more than $380,000 to clean up and dispose of the waste.
"By first neglecting and then abandoning hazardous chemicals at his place of business, Vizzerra's actions put both people and the environment at risk," Tyler Amon, special agent in charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in the Northwest, said in the statement.
"Adding insult to injury, he then saddled an innocent property owner and taxpayers with a total cleanup cost approaching half a million dollars. Our message in this matter is clear: If you fail to manage hazardous waste safely and responsibly, you will be investigated and prosecuted," Amon said.
Vizzerra's public defender, Mary Geddes, declined to comment to The Associated Press on Friday.