The operators of two Vernon companies that collected and disposed of hazardous wastes from dry-cleaning establishments and auto repair shops have been indicted on charges of violating federal environmental laws, the U.S. attorney's office said Friday.
Until it was shut down in January 2001, AAD Dry Cleaning Services was one of California's largest handlers of the dry-cleaning compound called perchloroethylene, commonly known as PERC.
PERC, a cancer-causing chemical, is the No. 1 contaminant of groundwater in Southern California, authorities said.
Named in a 19-count indictment returned Thursday were Homayoun Pourat, 40, of Beverly Hills, the company's president; Hormoz Pourat, 44, of Encino, company vice president; and Behzad Kahoolyzadeh, 49, of West Los Angeles, also known as Behzad Cohen, a manager at the firm.
Assistant U.S. Atty. William Carter said that AAD Dry Cleaning Services would pick up PERC waste from various dry-cleaning establishments in 55-gallon drums, guaranteeing proprietors that the substances would be stored and disposed of in accordance with all applicable hazardous waste laws.
Instead, the indictment alleged, the company stored the drums at the Vernon facility in amounts that greatly exceeded its hazardous waste permit and in drums that were not certified for such use.
The indictment also charged that company executives stored some of the drums at sites in Paramount and Chino that did not have permits to accommodate hazardous wastes. Cleanup costs at the sites exceeded $600,000, Carter said.
Homayoun Pourat is a fugitive, authorities said. Hormoz Pourat is in custody in Colorado on charges related to AAD's operation in that state. Kahoolyzadeh was arrested Friday in Los Angeles.
A second indictment was returned against the Pourats alone in connection with their operation of Right Choice, a company located next door to AAD, that arranged for the disposal of hazardous and flammable solvents from auto repair shops and other businesses.
The indictment charged that Right Choice did not have a permit to store hazardous wastes on its premises and that the Pourats tried to conceal their activities by temporarily moving the waste materials to other locations just before government inspectors arrived.