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#156 - Part One Of Two Parts: That Breakfast Meeting Between Reilly And Buntrock: Who's Covering Up, 20-Nov-1989

The investigation of EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) chief
William Reilly for possible criminal conduct (RHWN #151) seems to have
entered a phase of denial and coverup, just as happened with Watergate.
There have been several new developments in the case. We believe it is
now clear that three officials of Waste Management, Inc. lied to
federal investigators about their attempts to reverse national
environmental policy by lobbying Mr. Reilly, and lying in such
circumstances is a felony. Yet EPA investigators continue to insist the
case is closed. We believe it is time for a special prosecutor to open
an independent investigation.

Background

EPA employees Hugh Kaufman and William Sanjour filed a formal complaint
May 17, 1989, with EPA's Inspector General John Martin, asking for an
investigation of charges that Reilly reversed important EPA policies in
response to special pleadings by four top officials of Waste
Management, Inc. (WMI), the nation's largest waste hauler. The alleged
lobbying occurred at a private breakfast meeting March 16 arranged by
Jay Hair, president of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Dean
Buntrock, president of WMI, sits on the Board of Directors of NWF. Hair
and Reilly are close friends, so Hair easily arranged the Figure 1: Jay
Hair invites Bill Reilly to breakfast to discuss the "national
implications" of state waste restrictions (see Figure 2) "and to get to
know Dean better." breakfast between Reilly and Buntrock. Buntrock
showed up for breakfast with three of his top assistants
bearing "briefing papers."

Figure 2 is a WASHINGTON POST story Jay Hair attached to a hand-written
invitation to Reilly. Figure 1 is the invitation itself. Figure 2
clearly establishes the agenda for the breakfast meeting that occurred
March 16: to discuss events surrounding South Carolina (SC) action in
late February, 1989, to restrict waste imports into SC. What had caused
South Carolina to act was an earlier move by North Carolina (NC) to
restrict the quantities of wastes that could be dumped into NC's rivers
and streams. The NC law was so strict that it prevented at least one
large waste hauler (GSX) from building a facility on the Lumber River.
South Carolina's governor then said states unwilling to build their own
facilities could no longer dump in SC. The overriding issue is the
right of states to assert control over the waste industry and
interstate shipments of waste. State control of interstate waste
shipments would spell serious trouble for Waste Management, Inc. and
other waste haulers who have targeted the south and the midwest as
national dumping grounds for the chemical industry.

The nut of the whole issue was EPA's initial hostile reaction to the
state of North Carolina, which had passed a law in late 1987 severely
restricting the quantities of chemical wastes that could be dumped into
that state's rivers and streams--a clear, direct challenge to the power
of the waste industry. Under the Reagan administration, EPA initially
announced it would retaliate against NC by holding a public hearing as
the first step in rescinding that state's privilege of administering
its own hazardous waste regulatory program under RCRA, the federal
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; it was a bald attempt by EPA to
force NC to revoke its law by threatening to take over NC's RCRA
program, completely stripping NC of all control over the industry,
essentially leaving the state defenseless. However, opposition
developed quickly in Congress, and EPA backed off, set up study
committees, and hired consultants to evaluate the matter; finally EPA
announced Figure 2. Copy of the WASHINGTON POST story Jay Hair sent to
Bill Reilly suggesting they discuss its "national implications" with
Dean Buntrock, chief executive officer of Waste Management, Inc. at a
private breakfast (see Figure 1). Dec. 23, 1988, it was officially
abandoning its effort to take away NC's RCRA regulatory authority. It
was an important victory, shoring up a state's right to protect itself
against chemical poisoners.

EPA considered the matter closed. However, the waste hauling industry
couldn't let go, especially Waste Management, Inc., because EPA's North
Carolina decision had stirred action in other states. Shortly after EPA
abandoned its effort to punish North Carolina, South Carolina announced
(in February, 1989), that it would forbid import of hazardous wastes
from 32 states that refused to manage their own wastes. (See Figure 2.)
After SC acted, Alabama legislators said they might follow suit. In
March, 1989, the Alabama legislature was scheduled to consider a total
ban on out-of-state dumping in Alabama. The largest hazardous waste
dump in America is owned and operated by Waste Management, Inc. at
Emelle, Alabama; the Emelle site accepts wastes from all over the
country. WMI therefore needed EPA to reverse its North Carolina policy,
to prevent a domino effect among renegade Southern states. WMI has
literally billions of dollars at stake in this issue.

Three Waste Management officials have subsequently denied to
investigators that they wanted EPA's policies changed. Dean Buntrock
went so far as to tell an investigator that his company had no interest
in even discussing these matters with EPA officials. Lying to a federal
officer investigating a crime is, itself, a felony.

From the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste in Arlington, VA,
we have obtained a copy of a "briefing paper" prepared by Waste
Management, Inc., a copy of which was handed to Reilly by James Range,
WMI's vice president for governmental affairs at the breakfast. It is a
smoking gun.

[Continued next week.]

See PDF format version for copies of original Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1. Jay Hair invites Bill Reilly to breakfast to discuss
the "national implications" of state waste restrictions (see Figure
2) "AND to get to know Dean better." [Original was handwritten.]

Bill - If at all possible I would like to arrange a breakfast meeting
with you, Dean Buntrock (Chairman/CEO, Waste Mgt. Inc. and member of
NWF Board) and myself to discuss national implications of above
situation AND for you to get to know Dean better. How 'bout Breakfast
March 16/March 17 Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington (site of our
Annual meeting). Thanks, Jay

Figure 2. Copy of the WASHINGTON POST story Jay Hair sent to Bill
Reilly suggesting they discuss its "national implications" with Dean
Buntrock, chief executive officer of Waste Management, Inc. at a
private breakfast (see Figure 1). [Original was copy of the article
from the WASHINGTON POST, March 1, 1989.]

SOUTH CAROLINA BARS 32 STATES ON DISPOSAL OF HAZARDOUS WASTE

Associated Press

Columbia, S.C., Feb. 28-- South Carolina will ban 32 states and Puerto
Rico from disposal of hazardous waste within its borders beginning
Wednesday, state health officials announced today.

The ban, which affects such heavy landfill users as Florida and North
Carolina, resulted from an executive order Jan. 18 by Gov. Carroll A.
Campbell Jr. (R) who said that, beginning Wednesday, the state would
prohibit disposal of waste from any state that refused to dispose of it
itself.

The ban affects the massive GSX landfill on the shore of Lake Marion in
Sumter County near Pineville about 60 miles east of Columbia. The site
annually accepts 135,000 tons of hazardous waste, such as solvents and
other chemical garbage. About 70 percent comes from out of state.

"It was both the failure of other states to aggressively address their
waste disposal problems and the growing imbalance in waste disposal
that prompted... this executive order," said Hartsill Truesdale of the
state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The banned states shipped about 45 percent of the waste handled by the
facility in 1987, according to health department figures. Most of the
affected states did not respond to a request for information, Truesdale
said.

--Peter Montague

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Descriptor terms: epa; william reilly; investigations; wmi; nwf; jay
hair; dean buntrock; hugh kaufman; william sanjour; washington post;
gsx; nc; sc; al; rcra; waste disposal industry; international waste
trade; policies; emelle, al;