Portland businessmen face federal charges for coolant disposal

Federal prosecutors recently brought two Oregon residents to court for alleged felony violations of the Clean Air Act. According to reports, the two brothers, who own a recycling company based in Portland, are facing federal charges for illegally disposing of two types of coolant.

Law enforcement officials claim that the businessmen purchased over 15,000 vending machines and refrigerators to sell for scrap metal between 2006 and 2008. In order to be recycled as scrap metal, the coolant tanks needed to be disposed of properly. Authorities claim that the men hired family members to discard the coolant by discharging two types of Freon, an ozone-depleting compound, into the air.

Over the course of a few years, another company paid the Portland men at least $2.3 million for the recyclable material.

While in court, the men both pleaded not guilty to violating federal anti-pollution laws. Though the men face potential criminal consequences, the companies that sold and bought the equipment face no legal liability. The trial is expected to begin early next year.

This case is likely to garner the attention of local media outlets and local residents may rush to judgment. Though the reports provided by prosecutors to media outlets makes this appear as though it could be a slam-dunk case, it's important for the men to be able to tell their side of the story and receive an impartial trial.

Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so it will be important for the accused parties to address whether or not they willfully disposed of the refrigerants in a manner that's inconsistent with federal law. If prosecutors fail to prove criminal intent, then the case could be resolved positively for the defendants.

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