BREVARD COUNTY ? Law enforcement agents with the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently cited Deborah
Ahl, 55, owner and operator of American Fire and Safety Inc., for
improperly discarding an estimated 300 pounds of ABC fire
extinguisher agent onto the ground and into the air at her residence
in Cocoa. Ahl is charged with violation of the Florida Litter Law, a
third degree felony punishable by a fine up to $5,000 and/or up to
five years in prison.
?Improper disposal of waste can jeopardize public safety,
wildlife and the environment,? said DEP Division of Law Enforcement
Director Henry Barnet. ?DEP law enforcement agents, in conjunction
with the investigation performed by Brevard County Fire Rescue, were
able to solve this environmental crime.?
After being dispatched to investigate a report of a possible
fire, Brevard County Fire Rescue found no fire upon arrival, but
instead a yellowish cloud drifting through the air. After further
investigation by DEP law enforcement agents, Ahl admitted to
discharging the contents of several pallets of unserviceable ABC
fire extinguishers onto the ground and into the air at her home,
before subsequently taking the emptied fire extinguishers to a
recycling facility for scrap metal. Ahl received $160.00 for the
approximately 1,000 pounds of metal. Ahl was arrested on June 7,
2010 and transported to the Brevard County Jail on $2,000 bond. She
was released on June 8, 2010.
ABC fire extinguishers are multipurpose dry chemical
extinguishers filled with ammonia and phosphorus compounds. The use
of it for its intended purpose can be extremely useful; however, the
release of large quantities of this firefighting chemical directly
into the environment can cause respiratory problems (irritation and
infection) to humans as well as other living things. Additionally,
the release of these chemicals in the presence of water can cause
the accumulation of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients which can
cause environmental issues, such as contamination in the soil and
water. In addition, excessive nutrients in the water can cause algal
blooms which, in turn, can lower the oxygen in the water, resulting
in fish kills.
Environmental crimes are violations of state or federal
environmental laws that could impact public health and the
environment, such as illegal dumping or improper disposal of used
oil. Signs that an environmental crime has taken place could include
corroded, leaking or abandoned waste containers; fish kills; illegal
debris dumping in a natural area; or foul smelling or unsightly
discharges or visible sheens on the ground or water body.
Illegal solid and hazardous waste disposal is a primary focus of
DEP?s Division of Law Enforcement as illegal dumping can adversely
affect underlying aquifers, which are the source for more than 90
percent of the state?s drinking water supply.
DEP?s Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for statewide
environmental resource law enforcement, as well as providing law
enforcement services to Florida?s state parks and greenways and
trails. Special Agents investigate environmental resource crimes and
illegal dredge and fill activities, respond to natural disasters,
civil unrest, hazardous material incidents and oil spills that
threaten the environment.
To report an environmental crime, wireless customers can dial
#DEP. Callers can also report environmental crimes to the State
Warning Point by calling (877) 2-SAVE-FL (1.877.272.8335). General
environmental inquiries should be directed to DEP district offices
during business hours.
For more information about DEP?s Division of Law Enforcement,