A motorcoach operator in a Washington, D.C., suburb has pleaded guilty to illegally dumping waste from a bus lavatory holding tank into storm sewers. Dave Bolen, president of New World Tours in Lorton, Va., faces a possible jail sentence when he goes before a federal judge on May 10.
Bolen, 38, could also pay a hefty fine for the offense, which was prosecuted by the Justice Department. The incident was caught on videotape by FBI agents who were acting on a tip. The waste came from an out-of-state motorcoach that was taking advantage of New World’s overnight cleaning services. The bus had a lavatory discharge connection that was not compatible with New World’s equipment.
After learning of a suspected earlier violation, Bolen had warned his cleaning crews and drivers not to dump lavatory waste into anything other than approved collection points, but did not fire anyone, append the warning to the company’s policy manual, conduct environmental-specific employee training or instruct them on what to do if a spill occurred.
Steve Sprague, chief operating officer of the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), said Bolen’s predicament serves as a warning to the rest of the industry. “In a business that’s so massively dominated by transportation and safety rules, there has been precious little attention paid to guidance on environmental rules and OSHA mandates,” he said.
Sprague said the UMA will work with the industry to educate operators on environmental rules and regulations. “This is not an industry of criminals,” he said. “It’s an industry of Dave Bolens: independent business men and women who can be counted on to do the right thing when the rules and procedures are made clear to them.”