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composting of organic wastes or landfills....YOU decide! LANDFILLS?????!!!!!!!!
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- Subject: composting of organic wastes or landfills....YOU decide! LANDFILLS?????!!!!!!!!
- From: "Clarence W. Walker" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 15:17:02 -0400
- Organization: Atlanta Int'l Communications, Inc.
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WMI: A CULTURE OF FRAUD AND DISHONESTY?
Waste Management, Inc. (WMI --formerly WMX Technologies), the
largest waste hauler in America, has fallen on hard times.
Lately the NEW YORK TIMES has taken to calling the company
"troubled" and "beleaguered." In 1996, WMI reported
profits of only $192.1 million on revenues of $9.19 billion; in
1995, the firm had reported profits of $603.9 million on revenues
of $9.05 billion. WMI stock is selling for about the same price
it brought in 1989 and stockholders are distinctly unhappy. For
mismanaging the company, WMI's chief executive, Phil Rooney, was
forced to resign in February, 1997, with severance pay of only
$2.5 million per year until 2002.
Rooney had joined WMI in 1969 and had masterminded its public
relations campaign to present the company as "environmentally
responsible," even though WMI's core business is burying millions
of tons of dangerous wastes in the ground year after year. For a
time, Rooney even got himself appointed to the Board of Directors
of the National Audubon Society, a mainstream environmental
group, and Dean Buntrock, WMI's founder, joined the board of the
National Wildlife Federation. Under Rooney's guidance, WMI even
insinuated itself into the Environmental Grantmakers Association
(EGA) --creating quite a flap among the funding community at the
time --and now makes cash donations to environmental groups.
Such grants serve WMI's business goals by creating chasms of
mistrust within the environmental community.
In general, mainstream environmental groups like Audubon,
National Wildlife Federation, and Environmental Defense Fund
ignore --or openly cooperate with --WMI's environmentally
destructive core business and its greenwashing tactics. On
the other hand, local grass-roots groups are often engaged in a
life-or-death struggle with WMI at the local level and they are
not fooled in the least by WMI's greenwashing. They know that
when all is said and done, WMI is a company that plays hardball.
That is how, in the early 1960s, WMI entered an industry
dominated by the Mafia and soon became king of the mountain.
According to the company's world wide web site, within the U.S.,
WMI owns 133 garbage dumps; seven hazardous waste dumps; two
hazardous waste incinerators; one hazardous waste deepwell
injection site; and one "low-level" radioactive waste dump.
Wheelabrator Technologies, a subsidiary of WMI, owns 16 garbage
incinerators and 3 sewage sludge processing facilities. Outside
the U.S., Waste Management International, another subsidiary of
WMI, operates eight incinerators and 56 solid and hazardous waste
Over the years WMI has developed several winning strategies for
overcoming citizen opposition. Its earliest tactic was
purchasing leaking dumps and promising to clean them up in return
for permission to expand operations. The purchaser would often
be a newly-created WMI subsidiary corporation with few or no
assets of its own. The threat was clear: If the community refused
to allow expanded operations, the corporation would have limited
income and might have to declare bankruptcy, leaving the
community saddled with leaking poisons threatening its
groundwater. Under these circumstances, many communities allowed
WMI to expand dumping operations --a Faustian bargain at best.
Given that all landfills eventually leak (see REHW #37, #316)
those communities were choosing to improve their lot today,
passing the environmental health costs on to their children or
Another tactic that WMI pioneered was to offer communities a part
of the profits --perhaps 1% of their revenues from a facility,
which can add up to a substantial sum. Because landfills are
often located in poor communities, such an offer would dazzle
local politicians struggling to pay for public services.
Furthermore, such an offer would gain the support of property
owners in the community because it promised an alternative source
of revenue besides the property tax.
After December, 1996, however, communities receiving an offer of
profit-sharing from WMI have had reason to think carefully about
the wisdom of making such a deal:
In December, 1996, a federal judge in Tennessee declared that
"top corporate officers" of WMI had "decided upon and followed a
well-defined plan to cheat Plaintiffs out of money rightfully due
them under the terms of the purchase agreement for the Emelle
hazardous waste disposal facility."[7,pg.54] WMI's hazardous
chemical dump in Emelle, Alabama is the largest such facility in
In 1974, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified
Emelle as a good place for a big hazardous waste dump. Ten
individuals then bought 340 acres in Emelle and sought a license
from the state of Alabama to operate a dump. Among the 10 was
James Parsons, the son-in-law of former Alabama governor George
Wallace.[7,pg.10] The license was granted.
WMI purchased the Emelle dump site from the 10 individuals
February 23, 1978, promising to pay them 12.5% of all the money
made by the facility for 21 years. In 1992, a WMI employee
--presumably by mistake --sent a secret document to one of the 10
sellers, showing that WMI had doctored its accounts to reduce its
payments to the 10 individuals. The 10 individuals took WMI to
court in 1993 and federal judge Odell Horton issued his opinion
and order December 11, 1996.
The judge calculated that WMI had cheated the 10 individuals out
of $76.5 million dollars between 1981 and 1993. He ordered WMI
to pay that sum plus another $15 million in punitive damages.
WMI denies any wrongdoing.
In his written opinion, Judge Horton went on to say that, "The
Court finds Defendant [WMI], through its top corporate officers,
consciously and deliberately engaged in fraud and
misrepresentation towards Plaintiffs."[7,pg.55] Judge Horton did
not mince words: "What is troubling about this case," he said,
"is that fraud, misrepresentation and dishonesty apparently
became part of the operating culture of the Defendant
Under a new kind of law in many U.S. states, a corporation's
"culture" can become the basis for denying business
opportunities. These new "bad boy" laws, or "good character"
laws, give states the right to refuse licenses and permits to
companies that have a history of violating the law. (And of
course, all states have the right to revoke a corporation's
charter, effectively ending their existence as a legal entity, if
they choose to. See REHW #309, #449, #488, #489.)
The state of Indiana in June of this year denied WMI a license to
expand its Adams Center Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal
Facility near Fort Wayne. It was a stunning victory for Allen
County Dumpstoppers, a group of citizens who had fought the Adams
Center dump for about 10 years.
WMI had tried several legal maneuvers to get around the Indiana
law, which says the state can deny a permit application if the
applicant has not demonstrated good environmental stewardship.
Indiana passed the law in 1990; WMI's wholly-owned subsidiary,
Chemical Waste Management (CWM), challenged the constitutionality
of the law, but in 1994 it was upheld by the Indiana Supreme
After the law was declared valid, WMI created a new paper
corporation, which they called Chemical Waste Management, L.L.C.
(CWMLLC). CWMLLC then applied for a permit to expand the dump,
claiming it had no environmental record and thus had a good
character. CWMLLC said it was not associated in any way with
Chemical Waste Management of Indiana (CWMI), which is a
subsidiary of Chemical Waste Management (CWM), which is itself a
wholly-owned subsidiary of WMI. Despite claims of independence
by CWMLLC, the $34,000 application fee was paid by a check drawn
on the account of CWMI, clearly linking CWMLLC to CWMI, CWM and
WMI with their miserable environmental records.
It is interesting to note that CWM tried the same tactic in the
case of the fraud and misrepresentation at Emelle. CWM currently
owns Emelle, but in 1978 it was Alabama Solid Waste Systems
(ASWS), a subsidiary of WMI, that bought the 340 acres from the
10 developers.[7,pg.11] ASWS later became Waste Management of
Alabama (WMA), which later merged into CWM, a wholly-owned
subsidiary of WMI. When the cheating was discovered, one of
CWM's defenses was, "We never signed any contract with those 10
individuals. Somebody else did it." Judge Horton rejected that
Indiana also rejected the claim that CWMLLC was distinct from CWM
and WMI. Indiana said it denied CWMLLC the license to expand
** February 14, 1992, CWM buried waste illegally in an Illinois
landfill and was fined $25,000.8
** In Alabama July 4, 1992, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for burying
** In California July 29, 1992, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for
spilling hazardous wastes from a leaking tank.
** In Pennsylvania August 9, 1992, CWM pleaded guil-ty to six
felony violations of the federal Superfund law and was fined $3
** In California November 13, 1992, WMI paid a $65,000 fine for
various violations of law.
** In Illinois December 31, 1992, CWM paid a $275,000 fine for
** In Louisiana July 7, 1993, WMI paid a $25,000 fine for various
** In Louisiana November 30, 1993, CWM paid a $261,918 fine after
a judicial finding of environmental violations.
** In Texas April 8, 1994, CWM paid a $15,000 fine for faulty
analytic methods at its Port Arthur incinerator.
** In Alabama June 24, 1994, CWM paid a $35,000 fine for
illegally handling PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] at the Emelle
** In Illinois June 1, 1995, CWM paid a $1.9 million fine for
serious problems at its Chicago incinerator.
CWMLLC is now appealing the denial of the expansion permit in
Indiana, claiming that the new paper corporation should not be
penalized for the crimes and violations of others.
What all this really shows is that we have allowed corporations
to escape sensible controls. Up until 1886, corporations were
entirely defined by state legislatures. They could only do what
their corporate charter said they could do. After 1886,
corporations were defined as "persons" under the law, which
allowed them to do anything that any other person could do.
Recent history reveals that this was a serious mistake.
The solution to this problem is to go back to the way things used
to be, to deny corporations the rights of persons under the
Constitution, just as our grandparents did. Corporations bear no
resemblance to persons, so why treat them as such?
(National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)
 Claudia H. Deutsch, "Waste Management Hires Sprint
President," NEW YORK TIMES July 15, 1997, pg. 2.
 Claudia H. Deutsch, "Recent Changes at WMX Satisfy Dissident,
for Now," NEW YORK TIMES February 22, 1997, pg. 36.
 Claudia H. Deutsch, "Under Pressure, Chief Resigns at WMX,"
NEW YORK TIMES February 19, 1997, pg. 2.
 Bloomberg News, "$2.5 Million a Year for Ex-WMX Chief," NEW
YORK TIMES March 15, 1997, pg. 40.
 See, for example, REHW #156, #157, #403.
 Edwin L. Miller, Jr. [District Attorney, San Diego County,
California], FINAL REPORT, WASTE MANAGEMENT, INC. (San Diego: San
Diego Board of Supervisors, 1992). 260 pages. Copies may still
be available for $32.75 from: Clerk of the Board of Supervisors,
Room 402, County Administration Center, San Diego, CA 92101-2471.
Phone: (619) 531-5430. Be sure to ask for the full 260-page
version of the report.
 Odell Horton, "In the United States District Court for the
Western District for Tennessee, Western Division, Mark W.
Gregory, et al., Plaintiffs, vs. Chemical Waste Management, Inc.,
Defendant. Civil No. 93-2343-H/V, Opinion and Order" stamped
with the date December 11, 1996 by the clerk of the court. See
also, Jeff Bailey, "Judge Orders WMX to Pay $91.5 Million to
Hazardous-Waste Dump Developers," WALL STREET JOURNAL December
16, 1996, pg. A3.
 "IDEM Uses Good Character Law to Deny Hazardous Waste
Landfill Expansion," IDEM [Indiana Department of Environmental
Management] NEWS, press release dated June 13, 1997. Contact: Jo
Lynn Ewing at (317) 232-8560.
Descriptor terms: waste management, inc.; wmi; wmx; cwm; chem
waste; emelle; landfilling; fraud; lawsuits; al; tn; tx; ca; in;
bad boy laws; waste industry; waste hauling industry; mafia;
odell horton; phil rooney; edf; audubon; national wildlife
federation; ega; incineration; corporations; waste management
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