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Alan Block

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Environmental Crime and Pollution: Wasteful Reflections

The author discusses the emergence of criminal cartels in the toxic waste disposal industry at the time the U.S. government passed the first important toxic waste legislation in its history. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which mandated special handling of the newly recognized category of waste called either toxic or hazardous, was designed to patrol and discipline the waste disposers, not the producers. In the 1980s, the Superfund legislation mandated that all responsible parties (producers and disposers) would have to clean up polluted sites. The article compares the methods of expansion of carting companies and landfill operators run by organized crime and those run by a two-firm private oligopoly that became the waste industry’s most important companies. Bloc finds very little variance between the organized crime cartel and the industry giants in terms of legal issues such as antitrust violations and pollution. He also examines the firms’ involvement in illicit plans and actions to dump toxic waste in Third World countries.

environment, environmental crime, pollution, waste management, crime and criminals — organized crime, environmental protection — United States, environmental protection — legislation, hazardous wastes, refuse disposal industry, New York

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 29, Nos. 1-2 (2002): 61-81