Owner of road-painting business sentenced for abandoning waste

Casey Grove

The owner of an Anchorage road painting business, who admitted to abandoning hundreds of barrels of flammable hazardous waste in north Anchorage, has been sentenced to prison time.

William Duran Vizzerra Jr. pleaded guilty in August to illegally disposing of 204,750 pounds of hazardous waste, including methyl methacrylate paint and toluene his company, Precision Pavement Markings Inc., used to clean paint sprayers and nozzles. A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced Vizzerra, 43, to 15 months behind bars and ordered Vizzerra to pay about $456,000 to two victims, according to federal prosecutors and court documents.

According to a plea agreement Vizzerra signed, he told his workers to move 55-gallon barrels of painting waste from a previously failed painting business to a lot at 200 Post Road in April 2006. The workers put the barrels in the back of the lot and, as Precision Pavement Markings continued painting lines on highways and roads in Alaska, more waste barrels accumulated, the plea agreement says. In 2009, Vizzerra told his employees to take the barrels to a landfill, where they were turned away due to the danger of the waste inside, federal prosecutors said in a written statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

An environmental services company later told Vizzerra it would take tens of thousands of dollars to treat and get rid of the waste, and he made no further attempts to properly dispose of it, the prosecutors' statement said. In November 2009, he stopped paying rent on the lot and abandoned 321 55-gallon barrels, 179 five-gallon pails and two 200-gallon totes holding hazardous waste, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

A concerned citizen reported seeing the barrels stacked together on the lot in November 2010, and the Environmental Protection Agency's investigators were soon on the case, the prosecutors said.

"Many of the drums were marked 'waste' or held hazardous markings, such as 'flammable' or 'flammable liquid,' " the prosecutor's statement said. "Many were rusted and in decrepit condition or bulging."

San LLC, which had rented the lot to Vizzerra, paid about $443,000 to a contractor that cleaned up the waste, an operation that was completed in September 2011, according to a sentencing memorandum filed in court this week. The Alaska Railroad Corporation, which leased the land to San LLC, also paid about $13,000 in legal fees associated with the cleanup effort, the memorandum says.

Along with the 15 months in prison, Vizzerra must pay restitution to San and the Alaska Railroad Corporation for their costs, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.