Thu, May 23

Geologist testifies for Mulcaire Defense focuses on independent study

Defense testimony continued Wednesday in the trial of Verde Valley businessman Tom Mulcaire and his associate Brian Bolton, who are accused of illegally dumping hazardous waste at a sand and gravel pit in Rimrock in 1998.

The bulk of the testimony centered around Mathew Brent Callahan, a registered geologist for a Phoenix-based technical environmental consulting company. The company was hired by Mulcaire to do an independent soil study on the concentration of chemicals found at B&B Materials and in barrels transferred from property owned by Mulcaire to the alleged illegal dump site.

Mulcaire, Bolton and Mulcaire Contracting are accused of illegally disposing of as many as 56, 55-gallon drums containing paint and paint solvents, specifically the chemical methyl ethyl ketone.

Callahan said he tested several random soil samples for volatile organic compounds to determine characteristics in the soil. A test to determine the PH of chemicals in the soil found small traces of Ethyl Benzene and Toluene, he said.

“Results did not detect any MEK,” he said.

Callahan testified that the trace amounts of the other chemicals did not constitute hazardous waste and were not listed as hazardous waste chemicals under federal regulations.

Levels of PH in soil samples from the barrels discovered at the landfill also tested negative, he said.

“No MEK was detected in any of the samples selected,” Callahan said.

An investigation done in March of 1999 by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality determined that traces of MEK above federal regulations were found in eight barrels dumped by Brian Bolton and Mulcaire Contracting.

Liquid samples taken from the barrels were reported to be 30 parts per million more than the federal regulatory level of 200 parts per million.

Mathematical calculations performed by Callahan in court concluded that 230 parts per million of MEK is equal to roughly one-tenth of an ounce. He also testified that 2.5 centimeters of liquid may be present in a container under the “Empty Barrel Rule,” of the federal regulations on hazardous waste management and still be considered empty.

Testimony from other defense witnesses suggested that the barrels at Mulcaire contracting on Arizona 89A and Seventh Street, were abandoned there by former property owner Kent Piper and had no content labels attached to them. They also testified that there were never any complaints of strong odors coming from the property.