The Daily Item front page of today features yesterday’s raid on the Milton headquarters of Minuteman Environmental Services. Participants in this raid included the DEP, the FBI, the IRS, the PA Attorney General and even the local sewer authority. One thing the Daily Item failed to mention was the link between this company and Moran Industries – Minuteman were busily engaged in 2011 in shipping fracking waste through the Moran-owned former Celotex site, and in the process aroused much controversy and caused many problems for local residents.
Dripping Foul Smelling Fluids, but “City is Safe” – Mayor
During that time there were documented reports of trucks dripping foul smelling fluids on their way to the site, particularly along Julia Street, leaking waste containers on the site itself, and leaking rail cars too. One string of cars for which a complaint was made were actually pushed out of the site by the railroad and left for an entire weekend sitting on the side track on the bridge between Sunbury and Packer Island, dripping their foul smelling contents directly into the river.
In January 2011, soon after Minuteman began shipping waste through Sunbury, our illustrious mayor declared that “the city is safe“. This reassurance was not based on any research or anything more than off the cuff remarks, made to Persing by Jeff Stroehmann, operations manager of Moran Industries, claiming the non-toxicity of the waste and even that they were in full compliance with all regulations.
What mayor, truly concerned about the welfare of his citizens, and following only a short private meeting, would so readily accept at face value this flimsy explanation, especially given that these activities were being carried out within yards of a local residential neighborhood?
Mystery at Minuteman
People wonder about our river, and why our fish are developing cancerous lesions and dual sex organs. Perhaps activities such as those of Minuteman can give a clue as to a possible cause. Given the very heavy presence of DEP staff and the involvement of the sewer authority, and reports of drain inspections taking place at the Montandon site, was there illegal use of the sewer system?
Was liquid fracking waste being dumped and, if so, was it flowing directly into the river or into Milton Sewage works – a facility overloaded with its normal day-to-day input and probably unable to remove many of the chemicals, salts, heavy metals and other toxic materials from the waste, which would therefore pass straight into the West Branch.
Given the sheer scale of the raid and the number of agencies involved – federal, state and local – it is most unlikely that this was purely about dumping – the DEP could easily handle that by themselves and it would not be for the first time. In 2011, Minuteman was fined $7,000 by the DEP for dumping and storing waste without DEP approval at sites in Green Township, Clinton County, and White Deer Township, Union County. DEP stated the facilities held waste from natural gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale.
Additionally, if this were just about dumping, even on a large scale, then where were the EPA? They would certainly have wanted to be participants in such an operation. Why were IRS and FBI agents involved? Why were boxes and boxes of records confiscated, employees frisked, some handcuffed (for their “own protection”), vehicles searched and owner Bolus’s home raided?
Part of Much Bigger Operation?
Was this an isolated raid, or is it perhaps part of a much bigger investigation into this section of the fracking industry, and if so, are larger fish being targeted too? Is the Attorney General also interested in what has been going on in Sunbury?
Answers, no doubt, will be forthcoming eventually. Right now there is only speculation as to what Minuteman could possibly have done to merit such massive attention. Certainly there are links to Corbett in Harrisburg. Only last year he visited the plant (owner Brian Bolus had donated $10,000 to his campaign) and waxed eloquently about how this company was an example to us all – in fact an “American Success Story”.
Finally, we notice how the Daily Item have studiously avoided making any reference to the former role of Minuteman in shipping fracking waste through Moran’s site in Sunbury? Once again they seem to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Why are they so determined to bury the truth about what has been and what might still be happening at the former Celotex site? Wouldn’t they be better employed informing the people of Sunbury on this issue rather than once again sweeping it all under the rug? Have they been got at, and if so, by whom? Not The Item would like to know.