DEP Hazmat Specialist Pleads Guilty To Spill Records Destruction – Implications For Those Affected By Spills

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Former HazMat Specialist Jon P. Andrews, assigned to the Augusta Region of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, has pleaded guilty to destroying three years of spill records on his final day on the job.  The records destroyed included not only notes, but other information as well, including documents from other sources such as laboratory reports.

Andrews’ path of destruction covered spill records from 2010 to his last day at work for the DEP, March 6, 2012.  Described as a “disgruntled employee” by the Assistant Attorney General prosecuting the case, Andrews reportedly dragged one or more 55-gallon plastic bags of documents out of the DEP building. 

These records are often important for landowners, insurance claims, environmental assessments, and for tort claims for damages to property or personal injury, among other purposes.  The list of hundreds of spills (by Department-assigned spill number and with identifying locations) is over sixteen pages long.

The DEP has decided to attempt to reconstruct records on a case-by-case basis as requests arrive at the Department.  Mr. Andrews has not been requested to cooperate as part of his plea agreement, and so DEP staff in the Response Division is left to complete the task.  In some cases, replacement records may be available, such as laboratory reports.     

Pierce Atwood has obtained the list of spills for which records have been destroyed, and it may be possible to get other information.  Clients who had spills during that period, and at which Mr. Andrews responded, may wish to obtain the list and determine if any spills at their facilities are implicated.  It may also be wise to determine and obtain documents that may be available now, before they become unavailable with the passage of time, departure of knowledgeable state employees, or as records disappear under normal record retention policies.

If you have questions or would like a copy of list of the spills affected, please contact Ken Gray (kgray@pierceatwood.com or 207-792-1212) or Dixon Pike (dpike@pierceatwood.com or 207-791-1374).