Public Safety

Cedar Falls man sentenced for storing hazardous waste without permit

Richard Delp gets two years in prison, must pay restitution

Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016
Department of Justice seal in the US Attorneys office at the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Falls man who stored hazardous waste at his now defunct electroplating business without a permit was sentenced last week to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $789,138 in restitution.

Richard Delp, 62, pleaded guilty last August in U.S. District Court to unlawfully storing hazardous waste at his Cedar Falls business. Evidence during his sentencing hearing last week shows Delp, who owned and operated Cedar Valley Electroplating from 2004 through September 2011, didn’t have a permit to treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste, as required under federal law.

The various materials used in the electroplating process included raw steel, zinc plating solution, chromate solutions, acids and caustic soda, according to court documents. While in operation, the business was a large quantity hazardous waste generator, producing more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month, records show.

Court documents state civil inspectors of the Environmental Protection Agency inspected the facility in September 2005 and September 2010, and found hazardous waste being handled and stored unlawfully. The inspectors told Delp of their findings.

Based on the 2010 inspection, the EPA issued a notice to Delp and the facility for failing to perform hazardous waste determinations on the materials stored, court documents show. In a July 2011 letter from Delp to the EPA, Delp admitted that some of the waste observed in the September 2010 inspection was hazardous waste under the law.

Court documents show Delp closed the facility on or around Sept. 30, 2011, leaving numerous process chemicals and wastes inside and surrounding the facility, including those observed in the 2010 inspection.

In late 2011, Delp was ordered by the Cedar Falls Fire Department to move several white plastic tanks containing caustic or acid compounds from the outside to the inside of the building so that they would not freeze and discharge into the environment, according to court documents. After removal, the tanks left visible staining in the area where they had been stored, revealing they had already been discharged into the environment, records show.

In February 2012, the EPA executed federal search warrants at the facility, discovering totes, tanks, drums and other containers — some of which were leaking and unlabeled — and materials throughout the facility, giving off a strong acidic odor, court documents show. Some contained hundreds of gallons of chromium, zinc, ferric sulfate, ferric chloride, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide.

EPA officials collected 20 chemical samples and 18 showed the characteristic for corrosiveness and nine had the characteristic for toxicity, which constitutes hazardous waste under federal law. The on-site cleanup work exceeded $789,138.

U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade ordered Delp to pay restitution to the EPA’s Superfund. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release following his two year prison sentence.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com