Businessman Sentenced in Wilmington Waste Case

Times Staff Writer

The former president of a major harbor-area hauling firm has been fined $10,000 and placed on two years probation after pleading no contest to charges of illegally operating a hazardous-waste facility.

Joseph R. Mathewson, former president of Industrial Waste Engineering, a Wilmington hauling company, was sentenced by Los Angeles Municipal Court Commissioner Barry Kohn for two misdemeanor counts of storing hazardous waste on company property without required state permits.

The waste, stored in 55-gallon drums, was flammable and acidic, prosecutors said. None of the waste was found to be illegally dumped on the property at 930 Goodrich Ave.

“I hope this will be a message to the community that we are enforcing all aspects of the hazardous-waste control law and not just those that result in a discharge to the environment,” said Steven R. Tekosky, deputy city attorney.


Under state law, companies allowed to haul hazardous waste may store it on their property for up to 96 hours. According to the complaint, Industrial Waste Engineering stored at least 23 drums of hazardous waste on its property for 61 days.

“It was a problem of timing,” said James E. Patterson, Mathewson’s attorney. “Everything was lawful and above board, but they kept it (the waste) longer than they were supposed to. . . . It didn’t involve any illegal disposal; it was an administrative violation.”

Mathewson’s penalty reflects government’s concern that facilities that store hazardous waste for long periods be closely monitored by regulatory agencies, officials said.

The requirements for the state permits that Mathewson’s company needed to lawfully store its waste include emergency and operating plans and documentation of the type of waste being handled, among other things. The state Department of Health Services also inspects facilities with permits for compliance with state laws.


Charges were initially filed in March, 1985, against Mathewson and the company--from which he later resigned--by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office after a lengthy investigation by the state health department and the FBI.

The company itself, also known as American Standard Industrial Services Inc., pleaded no contest to the charges in July, 1985. It was fined $16,000 and placed on three years probation. The firm is still in business.