News Release 278

Battlefield couple referred to attorney general for hazardous waste violations

Volume 38-278 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Renee Bungart

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 5, 2010 -- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has referred the case against a couple living in Battlefield to the Missouri Attorney General's Office to pursue civil penalties for violations of Missouri's Hazardous Waste Management Law.

The department referred Tim and Cathleen Coffman, who operated an electronic scrap, or e-scrap, recycling business out of their home, to the attorney general alleging the two failed to manage cathode ray tubes properly. This resulted in the cathode ray tubes being regulated as a hazardous waste. The responsible parties failed to register as a hazardous waste generator with the department and improperly handled and disposed of hazardous waste.

Cathode ray tubes are found in old television screens and computer monitors and can contain four to eight pounds of lead, among other toxins. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in humans and animals.

On Dec. 7, 2009, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources inspected the Coffman residence based on a complaint by the city of Battlefield. The inspector observed numerous cathode ray tubes being improperly stored and de-manufactured in the home. The department issued a notice of violation to the Coffmans due to mismanagement of the cathode ray tubes.

The department’s Hazardous Waste Program performed a follow-up inspection and observed the cathode ray tubes had been removed from the site. Inspectors also observed broken cathode ray tube glass in the yard. During the inspection, Mr. Coffman was given a deadline of Feb. 19 to respond with the name and contact information of the individual who transported the cathode ray tubes off-site and to identify the final location of the cathode ray tubes. Coffman agreed to submit this information but has not yet done so.

The department is asking the attorney general to take several actions against the Coffmans:

Due to the serious nature of these violations, the department referred this matter directly to the attorney general to compel compliance and to seek an appropriate civil penalty for the violations. The Missouri Constitution requires civil penalties to be paid to the school fund of the county in which the violation occurred.

Missouri's Hazardous Waste Management Law exists to protect public and environmental health and the department is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations.

The department's enforcement actions help protect human health and the environment by requiring facilities to maintain compliance. The main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a facility to successfully achieve compliance with the standards and then ensure it has the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be used ensure future compliance by removing the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

The department strives to work with owners and operators to fix problems before an issue is referred to the attorney general's office for legal action.

For more information, contact the department's Hazardous Waste Program at 573-751-3176 or call toll-free at 800-361-4827.