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Belton-based company and owner indicted

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A grand jury handed down a five-count indictment against a Belton-based disposal company and its owner for allegedly disposing of hazardous materials without a permit, in violation of the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Welch Group Environmental and its owner Glenn Welch were indicted in U.S. District Court in Anderson.

According to the indictment, Welch and the company are charged with allegedly storing and disposing hazardous waste and releasing a “hazardous air pollutant” at facilities in Anderson and Fair Play from November 2010 to May 2011.

Welch Group Environmental was billed in the indictment as “a business that recovers lead and other metals from spent munitions gathered at firing ranges across the Southeast.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Watkins, Jr., who is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the Environmental Protection Agency and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control investigated the incidents.

“There will be a pre-trial conference down the road,” Watkins said. “The parties will decide if there will be a plea or if there needs to be more time to go over the case.”

In 2012, Welch Group Environmental was placed on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (.pdf) after it was fined $480,000 after it “knowingly neglected to protect workers from overexposure to lead,” according to OSHA.

According to OSHA, the company had 11 violations involving “failing to provide employees with a respirator fit test and respirator training, use engineering controls to reduce employee exposure to lead, provide eye or head protection, provide shower facilities and changing rooms, provide monitoring for lead levels in employees’ blood” and other lead disposal violations.

Calls to Glenn Welch were not returned.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, each disposal indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The maximum penalty for violating the Clean Air Act is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the individual and a $500,000 fine for the company.

Update: 8:35 a.m. Friday, July 15:

According to Michael D'Aquino, spokesman for OSHA, the case from Florida was turned over to debt collections.

"The employer paid a portion of the penalty and claimed no longer in business," D'Aquino said, in an email.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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