In September 1996, when I was nearing the end of my sixth year as a Justice Department environmental crimes prosecutor, one of my colleagues sent me an email that there was a “good-sounding RCRA [Resource Conservation and Recovery Act] knowing endangerment case developing in Idaho.” A twenty-year-old man named Scott Dominguez had collapsed inside a storage tank at an Idaho fertilizer manufacturing facility called Evergreen Resources. Mr. Dominguez could not be rescued for nearly an hour, because firefighters who responded to the scene did not know what was in the tank and what safety precautions they needed to take before entering the tank. The owner, Allan Elias, insisted that there was nothing in the tank that could hurt anyone, but later investigation would reveal that Elias had used the tank to conduct a cyanide-leaching operation at another facility he owned. By the time Dominguez was rushed to an area hospital, he had suffered permanent brain damage from cyanide poisoning. There was enough cyanide remaining in the tank to kill tens of thousands of people, based on total cyanide levels.
David M. Uhlmann,
Environmental Law, Public Health, and the Values Conundrum,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol3/iss2/1