Two arrested on charges of illegal disposal of harmful substance - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Two arrested on charges of illegal disposal of harmful substances

(Source: Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality) (Source: Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality)
George Ryals III. (Source: Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office) George Ryals III. (Source: Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office)
Michael Anaker. (Source: Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office) Michael Anaker. (Source: Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's Office)
ROANOKE, LA (KPLC) - -

Two men have been charged with felony illegal disposal of harmful substances, following an investigation by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

According to investigators, 62-year-old George L. Ryals III of Newton, New Jersey, abandoned numerous compressed gas cylinders containing poisonous gasses and other waste at a warehouse on Bryan Road in Roanoke, La.

Ryals III is the President of Stillwater Consultants, LLC, the company that leased the warehouse where the containers were left. He was arrested on June 26.

A second suspect, 55-year-old Michael Anaker of Sulphur, was also charged with felony illegal disposal of harmful substances. He was arrested on June 17.

If convicted, both suspects face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of no more than $100,000.

According to authorities, the owner of the warehouse, Crop Production Services (CPS), evicted Stillwater Consultants in June 2009, citing failure to pay rent.

"In July 2009, representatives of CPS visited the property and found that over 500 compressed gas cylinders and several drums of waste oil had been abandoned inside the warehouse. Under DEQ regulations, abandonment of wastes is considered disposal," said Jean Lockwood Kelly, Public Information Officer with the DEQ.

In August 2009, State Police and emergency services entered the warehouse and discovered the containers held the following substances: chlorine, cyanogen chloride, cyanogen, phosgene, arsenic pentafluoride, sodium cyanide, and hydrogen cyanide. The cylinders were in a deteriorated state and were considered by authorities to be in danger of leaking.

"Phosgene, chlorine and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) are extremely hazardous chemicals that were used as chemical warfare agents, especially during World War I," said Kelly.

Because of the hazardous materials discovered at the site, the DEQ made an emergency declaration on August 14, 2009, requiring CPS to mitigate and remove the substances "that may threaten the health, safety and welfare of nearby citizens."

According to the DEQ, CPS was fully cooperative with the cleanup and subsequent investigation. The cleanup cost CPS over $1 million.

Participating agencies in the investigation included the Louisiana State Police, the United States Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

Anyone with information on any spills, releases, odors, fish kills, open burning, waste tires and any other types of environmental incidents may contact the DEQ at 225-219-3640 or 1-888-763-5424.

Copyright 2014 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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