2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: loc@icx.net
Date: 22 Jan 2003 21:49:57 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Private labs fake environmental tests, government finds
 
This is very disturbing....

Private labs fake environmental tests, government finds
By Associated Press
Wednesday, January 22, 2003

WASHINGTON  Private laboratories are increasingly being caught
falsifying test results for water supplies, petroleum products,
underground tanks, and soil, hampering the government's ability to
ensure Americans are protected by environmental laws, investigators
say.

The fraud has caused millions of people to fill their cars with
substandard gasoline that may have violated clean air standards, or to
drink water not properly tested for safety, the officials said. 

In addition, officials making decisions at hazardous waste cleanup sites
have relied on companies that fraudulently tested air, water and soil
samples. 

"In recent years, what has come to our attention is that outside
[non-government] labs are oftentimes in bed with the people who hired
them, and conspired to commit environmental crime," said David
Uhlmann, chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes
section. 

The EPA's watchdog against fraud, Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, has
called the rise of lab fraud a disturbing trend. 

"If it was my drinking water I'd consider it very serious," she said,
declining to identify locations affected by the ongoing investigation. 

Private laboratories test products that are regulated by anti-pollution
laws, and the results allow companies to certify that they're meeting
the requirements of environmental protection laws. 

In one instance three years ago, investigators discovered fraudulent
test results by contract employees at the Environmental Protection
Agency's lab in Chicago. The head of the laboratory was transferred and
the contractor, Lockheed Martin, was suspended from performing tests. 

The Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency have
prosecuted dozens of employees and laboratories the past several years
for fraudulent testing. Uhlmann, the Justice Department official, said
the prosecutions have grown but statistics are not kept on lab fraud
cases. 

The growing number of cases stretch from New England, where a
chemist for municipal water made up test results, to Texas, where the
government recently prosecuted the largest tester of underground fuel
tanks. 

Officials said they aren't certain whether an increasing number of labs
are falsifying tests, or whether more are simply being caught through
more aggressive investigations and whistle-blowers. 

Tinsley said there were numerous reasons for lab misconduct: poor
training, ineffective ethics programs, shrinking markets, and efforts to
cut costs. 

In some cases, the labs duped the companies that submitted samples
for testing. In other instances, the companies were part of a conspiracy
with the labs, officials said. 

Sometimes the fraud included "driveway tests," so-named because
employees generate them on a computer in their own driveways,
without ever visiting the facilities. 

Whatever the case, lab fraud hampers an environmental protection
system that frequently relies on voluntary compliance by companies
backed by test results, officials said. 

"If we can't rely upon science with supporting lab results, then we
don't
know what's out there for the public to eat or drink or use," said J.P.
Suarez, the EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and
compliance assurance.

"When people may not be getting harmed, they may be getting ripped
off, using products that are not what they're paying for. And companies
are paying for services they're not getting," he said. 

Among the recent examples: 

     - Intertek Testing Services, of Richardson, Texas, was fined $9
     million for falsifying results at its former laboratory in the
Dallas
     suburb. The tests of air, soil, pesticides, nerve gas agents and
     other hazards were used to make decisions for severely polluted
     areas called "Superfund" sites, at Department of Defense facilities
     and other hazardous waste locations. 

     - Terian Koester, owner of Quality Water Analysis Laboratories in
     Pittsburg, Kan., was sentenced to 18 months in prison for violating
     the Clean Water Act and mail fraud. He was accused of fraudulent
     analysis of waste water, drinking water and hazardous waste. 
     
     - William McCarthy, a senior chemist for the Lawrence, Mass.,
     drinking water filtration plant, pleaded guilty to violating the
Safe
     Drinking Water Act. During the 1990s McCarthy, who supervised
     quality testing, admitted he fabricated drinking water quality
     results. The Lawrence filtration plant draws water from the
     Merrimack River and distributes it to more than 60,000 residents. 
     Caleb Brett U.S.A. Inc., of Houston, was sentenced to pay a $1
     million fine and three years probation for misleading investigators
     about a scheme to falsify analyses on reformulated gasoline, a
     blended fuel that significantly reduces pollution in populated
areas.
     The fraud resulted in distribution of 200 million to 300 million
     gallons of substandard gasoline in New York, New Jersey and
     Connecticut. 

     - Tanknology-NDE International, of Austin, Texas, was ordered to
     pay $2.29 million in a criminal fine and restitution for false
     underground storage tank testing services. The nation's largest
     underground storage tank testing company admitted the fraud at
     postal facilities, military bases and a NASA facility, among other
     sites. The tests were supposed to detect leakage of petroleum
     products. 

     - Former environmental contractor James Edward Adams of Inman,
     S.C., was sentenced to 27 months in prison. His company, which
     provided testing services for underground storage tanks, directed
     employees to provide false test reports to owners and operators of
     petroleum tank facilities in South Carolina, North Carolina,
Florida,
     Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee, prosecutors said.

Full story at:
http://enn.com/news/wire-stories/2003/01/01222003/ap_49393.asp
-- 
.....................................................
Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee
102 Robertsville Road, Suite B, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Toll free 888-770-3073 ~ www.local-oversight.org
.....................................................

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