The owner of a trucking company has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after he admitted that he illegally brought hazardous materials. This resulted in the deaths of two fellow truck drivers.
41-year-old Matthew Bowman is the former president of the Port Arthur Chemical Environmental Services LLC (PACES) and CES Environmental Services of Houston, Texas. He has pleaded guilty to violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act by making a false statement.
Bowman did not have the permission to treat hazardous waste, or recycle waste oil and commercial wastewater. He ordered his employees to “falsify transportation documents, to conceal that the wastewater came from PACES after a disposal facility put a moratorium on all the shipments from PACES, after it received loads containing hydrogen sulfide.”
Joey Sutter and Charles Sittig, two of Bowman’s truck drivers, died within four months of each other, on December 2008 and April 2009. Both of them died due to exposure to hydrogen sulfide, according to the Department of Justice. Court documents have shown that Bowman illegally hauled the hazardous loads using false documents, and did not have the required placards. He also didn’t provide the drivers with the right safety controls to prevent them from exposure “above harmful limits.”
Bowman operated PACES and CES from November 2008 to November 2010. His business focused on producing and selling caustic materials to paper mills.
What is Hydrogen Sulfide?
Hydrogen sulfide is a chemical compound with the formula H2S. It is a kind of toxic, flammable gas. It often results when bacteria breaks down organic material when oxygen is not present. It occurs in volcanic gasses, natural gasses, and some well waters.
Because hydrogen sulfide is toxic and flammable, it tends to be heavier than air, accumulating at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Hydrogen sulfide can also be found in swamps and sewers.
Hydrogen sulfide is a broad-spectrum poison. This means that it can harm different systems in the body, with the nervous system being the most affected. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, hydrogen sulfide is an acute toxic substance that is the leading cause of sudden death the workplace.
Besides his prison sentence that will last for one whole year, Bowman has been ordered to pay a huge fine of $5,000. Both of his businesses, PACES and CES, have already filed for bankruptcy.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Robert G. Dreher has said in a statement that the Justice Department and US Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the law enforcement partners to constantly investigate as well as persecute those who have violated the laws enacted. He will also ensure the safety of the workers that handle hazardous materials, to prevent any type of tragedies that will occur in this case.