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MINNESOTA MAN FACES CHARGES OF STORING TOXIC WASTE IN BLANDING

A Minnesota man was arraigned in U.S. District Court Wednesday on an indictment charging him with two environmental felonies, accusing him of storing toxic waste at a Blanding refining operation.

If convicted, Gordon S. Bird Jr., Elk River, Minn., faces up to five years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted. He is the owner and president of XTRON Inc., which refined high-purity gallium and arsenic in 1987.The first count claims XTRON disposed of drums of arsenic and pits containing arsenic waste without a permit; the second says the company stored and disposed of mounds of dust containing cadmium, without a permit.

U.S. Attorney David J. Jordan said this is one of the first major federal environmental indictments issued in Utah.

"Bird is accused of abandoning drums of hazardous waste and hazardous waste in storage ponds at the XTRON facility in Blanding," Jordan said. "This included arsenic and other toxic materials that are considered hazardous by the Utah Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency."

In June 1988, investigators found dangerous chemicals at the XTRON facility, including more than 4,500 pounds of material that was toxic because of arsenic, he said.

"The drums have been properly and safely transported and disposed of, and there is no risk to the public health in the area," Jordan said.

The indictment covers the period from January through August 1987.

An earlier federal hazardous waste indictments was filed against Flasher Barricades Inc., Commercial Beef and Dean Stephens, charged in February with illegal practices in Box Elder County; and a charge in state court was filed against Ekotek, a Salt Lake refinery and its president, Steven M. Self, in May 1990.