Recently, Mahoney’s Auto Mall and employee Andrew Fuller in Potsdam, New York, were indicted for burying 55-gallon drums full of used oil, containers of used oil filters and tires, totaling 140 gallons of hazardous substances. The hazardous waste was discovered buried on the auto dealership’s property, which led to 12 counts of felony third-degree endangering public health, safety or the environment, and eight counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree endangering public health, safety or the environment.
“Failing to properly dispose of hazardous material jeopardizes the health of New Yorkers and the surrounding environment,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in his press release. “We will continue to hold polluters responsible for their actions and will not hesitate to vigorously enforce our state’s environmental laws.”
The drums of used oil were confirmed to contain benzene, a key ingredient in gasoline and a solvent used in many products and industries. The most common pathway of benzene exposure is through inhalation, but the chemical can also be absorbed into the skin. Once in the bloodstream, benzene wrecks bone marrow and blood forming cells, leading to life-threatening diseases including Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), lymphomas and aplastic anemia.
People who work in close proximity to benzene or benzene-containing products are at higher risk of life-threatening blood diseases because their exposure can occur at much higher levels and for longer periods of time.
Following the indictment, additional information was released in a statement that said during their investigation DEC officials also found a giant pile of solid waste 25 feet high and 33 feet wide on the property. The pile was made up of construction and demolition debris, roofing material, household trash, clothing, furniture and bedding. The amount of waste found constituted the operation of a solid waste management facility.