NY tannery owner arrested on hazardous waste charges

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By Eric Freedman

A federal grand jury has indicted the ex-owner of a Johnstown, New York, tannery on charges of illegal storage of hazardous waste and failing to notify authorities that he’d abandoned dozens of drums and barrels of hazardous chemicals.

Robert Carville pleaded not guilty to the charges filed in federal court in Albany.

He’s the former owner and operator of Carville National Leather, which is now an abandoned building. His father founded the business in 1967, and at one point it had 150 employees.

The indictment, which follows a criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, accuses Carville of knowingly storing hundreds of gallons of hazardous waste and corrosive chemicals for more than two years without a permit. It also accuses of him of violating the Superfund law by failing to tell the appropriate government agencies that he’d left the material behind.

The material included chromium, lead and waste oil, the indictment said,

A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for June 18. The crimes carry a maximum possible sentence of three years in prison and a $41 million fine, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

International Leathermaker, a leather industry trade publication, reported on the August 2013 shutdown of the tannery. That story quoted Carville as attributing the closure to economic problems that were worsened by fires in 2009, 2010 and 2012, competition from imports and a loss of federal military contracts.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Perry said other details of the case are not public yet.

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