A Greer man has been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation over the dumping of hazardous chemicals in Upstate sewage treatment systems.
Timothy Howard, 48, was arrested Wednesday evening and charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. Howard owns American Waste Septic Tank Service, which had been issued a cease-and-desist letter by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in August after polychlorinated biphenyls were detected in three different Spartanburg-area sewer systems.
The arrest was first reported by the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
The cease-and-desist order suspended the license of American Waste after several pieces of equipment were found to be contaminated with PCBs. PCBs were once used as an industrial coolant and degreaser, but Congress banned its use in the late-1970s after it was linked to cancer. PCBs are still handled occasionally on old industrial sites.
DHEC also claimed several loads of waste were unaccounted for. Howard told the Herald-Journal those discrepancies were later corrected. However, he told South Carolina Radio Network that his lawyer did not wish him to comment further.
According to warrants released by DHEC, Howard lied under oath during an Aug. 9 municipal hearing after he was accused of dumping waste into a grease trap behind an old Denny’s restaurant in Lyman. The warrant states that Howard claimed the property manager had asked him to pump grease out of the trap. But DHEC says the owner revealed Howard’s testimony was false.
DHEC also said Howard lied about never transporting industrial waste in his company trucks, claiming he only dealt with sewer and grease trap waste.
“This arrest represents only the leading edge of a larger and ongoing criminal investigation,” DHEC Communications Director Mark Plowden said in a written statement. “We will provide updated public information as it becomes available.”
Howard was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond Thursday morning.
According to the Herald-Journal, Howard’s hearing was scheduled before the PCBs was discovered. At the time, he was only accused of incorrectly discharging into the wastewater treatment system. The PCB contamination was discovered shortly before the hearing, however.
Soon after the discovery in Lyman, PCBs were also found at sewer treatment plants in the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District and the Greenville-based Renewable Water Resources.
The warrants still do not say how the PCBs got onto the American Waste truck or where it may have come from. The warrants also do not explicitly blame Howard for the contamination. Plowden said DHEC has no further comment at this time.