ANAHEIM : Former Executive Told to Stand Trial

A municipal judge on Friday ruled that a former vice president of an Anaheim paint-manufacturing plant must stand trial on five felony counts of illegal disposal of hazardous waste.

Marion Bruce Hale, formerly of W.C. Richards Co., has been charged with directing his employees on a daily basis to disguise dangerous chemical waste in sawdust and secretly dump it in regular garbage, which was hauled to a county landfill in Brea. State law prohibits dumping of hazardous waste in trash, because the chemicals pose a public health threat.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Gerald C. Johnston said he has evidence from W.C. Richards employees that the waste was dumped illegally for 2 1/2 years, from 1988 until April, 1990, when a county strike team acting on a tip raided the plant.

Johnston said the alleged violations are one of the most serious environmental crimes in the county because of the large amounts of hazardous waste involved--several hundred thousand gallons. Similar chemicals are leaking from the Brea landfill into the ground water, although no one knows if they came from the paint plant, Johnston said.

Hale left the company after the criminal charges were filed against him, although W.C. Richards Co. officials have declined to elaborate.


Fullerton Municipal Judge Daniel T. Brice ordered the trial after a six-day preliminary hearing on the charges. Hale, 44, of Brea, is being held on $50,000 bail and will be arraigned on the felony counts March 25. He could face fines and jail time if convicted.

The corporation, based in Illinois, also faced similar criminal charges, but agreed in January to pay a $250,000 fine to settle the case. At the time, corporate officials said they had no knowledge of any illegal activity at the Anaheim plant.