By: Sarah Snyder
It's a "He said, she said" in Pecos, but it all comes down to a warehouse packed full of old batteries. A few years ago, a battery recycling company abandoned their business after a battle with the TCEQ. Authorities claim they left behind hazardous waste. Now, the company owner is facing federal charges.
The abandoned facility is formerly known as Battery Reclamation, Inc. It's a recycling service center in an industrial area on the west side of Pecos. The indictment says they illegally stored and disposed of batteries. It's been abandoned for a few years, but the former owner who now lives in Canada will answer to those charges in a federal court in Pecos.
"First the TCEQ says you can't move them," Houston Defense Attorney, Dick Deguerin, said. "You have to leave them there, but we're going to charge you for leaving them there. I'm telling you, it's bureaucratic nonsense."
The owner, Herbert Larsen, abandoned his recycling company a few years ago, moved to Canada, and has since become an inspirational speaker. In fact, he was on his way to a speaking engagement when border authorities stopped him. According to the indictment, Larsen and his associates disposed of and stored battery waste without a valid permit. It states they "mishandled the waste" in order to avoid the cost of proper storage. They even received 2,300 tons of battery waste from Taiwan. The indictment also says the company owner submitted false documentation to the TCEQ. But Larsen's attorney tells NewsWest 9, the TCEQ refused to renew their license.
"He didn't do anything wrong," Deguerin said. "He simply tried to get the licenses they said he needed and then when they wouldn't give him the licenses, they accused him of storing the batteries without having a license. He said, 'Of course I don't have a license - you wouldn't give it to me.'"
Pecos city officials weren't available to comment on camera, but they told NewsWest 9, they're afraid that battery waste will eventually contaminate the area and pose an environmental threat to Pecos.
"There's nothing toxic, nothing bad for the environment either the air or water," Deguerin said. "It's just a bunch of old batteries."
At this point, no formal trial date has been set. NewsWest 9 will continue following the developments.