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Formaldehyde Maker Indicted On Waste Charges

Fri, 08/07/2009 - 12:32pm

WILLIAM McCALL Associated Press Writer - August 7, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — One of the nation's largest manufacturers of formaldehyde and its owner have been indicted on charges of dumping hazardous waste in a volcanic cinder cone in Oregon.

Dennis Beetham and his company, D.B. Western Inc., were charged with felonies under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Beetham also was charged with state violations in a separate indictment filed by Crook County District Attorney Daina Vitolins, who was named a special assistant U.S. attorney to help handle the case.

Attorney Janet Hoffman entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Beetham and the corporation at a brief arraignment Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland.

The state indictment charges Beetham and the company with illegally creating air and water pollution, disposing of solid waste without a permit and failing to complete cleanup of a waste site.

Federal prosecutors said the recovery act regulates the handling of hazardous wastes from creation through disposal.

Beetham and his company were accused in the indictment of illegally dumping a large quantity of hazardous liquid formaldehyde and nitric acid into the cinder cone on the 500-acre ranch Beetham formerly owned at Powell Butte near Prineville in the high desert of central Oregon.

Hoffman said in a statement released after the arraignment that D.B. Western and Beetham cooperated with the investigation and had nearly completed a voluntary cleanup after the government opened its investigation in 2007.

But she noted the company and Beetham filed a lawsuit against the government when they learned a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency test method for determining whether waste is classified as hazardous or nonhazardous had been changed. The suit is still pending.

A tentative trial date was set for Oct. 6 before U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton estimated a trial could take four to six days.

Hoffman told U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta it would be closer to a month because there are scientific and credibility issues at stake.

Beetham was released but ordered to provide his business and personal travel schedule to the federal Pretrial Services Office.

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