A San Diego, California cannabis company and its owner have pleaded guilty to charges that it abandoned hazardous ethanol waste and transported the waste without a manifest, the Department of Justice announced last Thursday.
In pleading guilty, WellgreensCA, Inc., and owner Lunar Loussia admitted that, as a cannabis extraction company, Wellgreens generated various wastes, including 55-gallon drums of waste ethanol. The waste ethanol was a federally regulated hazardous waste that could be ignited, the Justice Department said. Wellgreens hired a contractor and directed them to dispose of the waste near a supermarket. The contractor is also charged in the case.
An employee of the supermarket contacted the El Cajon police and the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Services (DEH) who were able to identify Wellgreens due to paperwork left along with the drum of waste ethanol.
Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair, of Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in California, said the “defendants knowingly ignored legal requirements for the proper transportation and disposal of hazardous waste, putting local communities in the San Diego area at risk.”
As part of the plea agreement, the company agreed to pay a $45,000 fine and restitution of $26,482 for the emergency response costs and restoration of the sites where the hazardous waste was abandoned.
Louissia is set to be sentenced on August 3. He faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine greater than $250,000 for transportation of hazardous waste without a manifest. Wellgreens faces a $500,000 fine.
Nadia Malloian, the contracted driver that abandoned the waste, is charged with accessory after the fact to transportation of hazardous waste without a manifest. He faces a fine of more than $50,000 and one year in federal custody.
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