Indicted Regional EPA Administrator Resigns Post
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s southeast regional administrator, Trey Glenn, resigned from the agency on Nov. 19, days after an Alabama grand jury indicted him on state ethics violations involving the fight over expanding a Superfund waste site in that city.
Trey Glenn, EPA region 4 administrator, and former chief of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, was charged by a Jefferson County grand jury of soliciting a thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate and receiving money beyond what he received in his official capacity.
Glenn, in charge of an eight-state region since August 2017 and ex-chief of the Alabama Dept. of Environmental Management, had posted a $30,000 bond and was released from a Birmingham jail on Nov. 15 after his indictment.
Glenn was charged by a Jefferson County grand jury of soliciting a “thing of value from a principal, lobbyist or subordinate” and receiving pay beyond what he received in his official capacity. In a statement from his attorney to the Associated Press, Glenn said the charges “are totally unfounded and will be vigorously defended.”
Named as acting Atlanta-based regional chief is Mary Walker, who now is deputy regional administrator. She previously led its water division and also was assistant director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
After leaving his state job, Glenn worked closely with the Birmingham-based law firm Balch & Bingham and one of its clients, Drummond Co., to fight EPA efforts to test and clean up neighborhoods in north Birmingham and the adjacent neighborhood of Tarrant. Drummond owns a nearby coke plant used in steel making.
An Alabama federal jury convicted on July 20 a Drummond executive and a Balch & Bingham lawyer on six counts of bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering for payoffs to a state legislator to oppose an expansion of the $23 million emergency waste cleanup in a residential area of Birmingham, known as the 35th Avenue Superfund cleanup, and to oppose adding it to the National Priorities List (NPL), which would designate Drummond Co. as potentially responsible for site costs.
During that trial, prosecutors called Glenn and Scott Phillips, a former state environmental commissioner, as witnesses. Court documents and testimony showed that the two, who had an engineering consulting firm, worked closely with Balch & Bingham to push back on EPA as recently as 2017.
The cleanup site has elevated levels of arsenic, lead and benzo(a)pyrene. As of the summer, EPA has remediated 389 properties with about 138 othersremaining, an EPA spokesman said. More than 50,000 tons of soil had beenremoved.
The area was not added to the NPL after Alabama, which would pay 10% of the cleanup objected, but EPA has agreed to continue cleaning up the site, but not to expanding it to other neighborhoods.
At least four other private-sector manufacturers could also be liable for the cost of cleanup if the site was added to the Superfund priority list.
Glenn recused himself from matters related to the cleanup for one year when he was appointed regional administrator.