Man fined for leaving chlorine canisters in Laurel business lot


A Laurel businessman pleaded guilty in federal court in Greenbelt to illegally leaving nine canisters of highly toxic chlorine gas in a business park off U.S. 1, the U.S. attorney's office announced.

Richard Fletcher, 46, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution for the cost of the cleanup, for violating the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act by failing to notify authorities of the dumping, prosecutors said Thursday.

None of about 200 pounds of chlorine gas escaped, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Prince George's County Fire Department disposed of the canisters, prosecutors said.

Fletcher left the canisters in the parking lot of the Laurel Business Center in June 1998 after his warehouse business was evicted, prosecutors said.

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