On June 11, 2019, a federal judge in California ordered Wiley Sanders Truck Lines, Inc. (Wiley Sanders) to pay $3 million for illegally transporting more than 128,000 pounds of hazardous battery recycling waste from the now-closed Exide Technologies battery recycling facility in Vernon to a company in Bakersfield. The sentence also placed the Alabama-based trucking company on probation for three years. Of the $3 million payment imposed, $1.5 million (the statutory maximum) are criminal penalties, and the remaining $1.5 million is a community service payment to the Exide Residential Assistance Fund, which supports residents affected by lead contamination near the facility.
The sentence comes after a plea agreement filed on Feb. 25, 2019 in which Wiley Sanders admitted to three felony counts of violating hazardous materials transportation regulations. Under 49 C.F.R. § 173.24(b), authorized packaging must be used to transport hazardous materials, such as battery recycling waste. The trucking company specifically admitted in its plea agreement that, on three occasions between November 2013 and March 2014, it willfully and recklessly transported a total of 128,840 pounds (64.42 tons) of lead-contaminated plastic battery chips from Vernon to Bakersfield. Wiley Sanders also admitted to knowing that the trailers it used to transport the plastic battery chips did not contain any lining or inner packaging material to prevent liquids and semisolids from escaping through cracks and other openings in the trailers while they were traveling on public roads.
Additional information can be found on the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General’s website here.