If you have an individual working for a company and operating a truck, and he just flushes the tanker (of hazardous material) in some vacant field, the question is whether he was acting under the authority and direction of some corporate officer, or just acting on his own to save time because he's running behind on his schedule.
Then we have what you would have with any criminal case: lab reports, collection of the samples, preservation of the samples, analysis, getting the witnesses into court, and whatever is associated with any case.
Johnston: In addition, there are complexities you wouldn't normally have. For one, the statutory framework is different. There is a large body of statutes and regulations that you wouldn't normally see. There are a lot of regulatory agencies that would potentially have jurisdiction, and that will require coordination to figure out who should be doing what.
That's one reason we have the task force, to make sure all the proper authorities are in there and participating. To give an example: If we had a spill of solvents into the ground in a waterway, we might have the Environmental Management Agency, because it's a manmade waterway; the AQMD, because the solvents are evaporating into the atmosphere; the Health Care Agency, because it involves soil contamination; and the Regional Water Quality Board, because there is the potential that it could migrate into ground water. So there is a lot you have to think about any time these spills happen.
Q. How much time do you spend on coordination?
A. Kralick: We have an investigator, Kip Kinnings, who coordinates most of that for us. We're very lucky. He's very experienced, and has been doing this for a number of years, and he has developed very good communication with all the different agencies, which helps us tremendously.
Q. Do you do any kind of special training to handle these cases?
A. Nolan: When we enlarged the section, the deputies got together and decided it would be a good idea to go to classes at UC Irvine having to do with the regulatory framework, investigations and a series of other things. Also, the California District Attorneys Assn. puts on seminars, and recently they had a three-day seminar here in Garden Grove on environmental issues. In June, there will be an advanced seminar on environmental crime. It's a continual training process that we either do on our own or through the D.A.s' association. We're constantly learning.
Q. Clearly, environmental crime is a rapidly growing field. Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner has made it a major priority in his office. How big a priority is it in this office?
A. Nolan: In the last year, we have made it a bigger priority. Our district attorney, Mike Capizzi, has taken a great interest in this unit, allowed us to expand it with the deputies we have, and I've been told that if we need additional deputies to handle the workload, we certainly will get them. It's getting a lot of attention.
Q. Do you think you will need more deputies?
A. Nolan: Absolutely.
Q. Do you have an ideal size in mind?
A. Nolan: You never know where it's going. As environmental crime gets more attention, as more people call in with information, as we get more information from other agencies, we could grow up to 25 or 30 deputies. Let's hope it doesn't get that big, because a lot of our work here is prevention. As we get the word out about what we're doing and how we're working, we're hoping corporations will comply with the rules and we won't be in a position to have to expand the unit.