"You'll be all right," his father says.
"I'll call you tonight."
James Dillon watches his son walk along the sidewalk in the September sunshine. John waves once before going through a tall, chain-link gate that slides open to admit him.
James watches his son raise his arms to be frisked.
John Dillon is the newest resident of the minimum-security federal prison at Leavenworth -- camp, it's called. He enters as a felon of standing. He can look the drug dealers, tax evaders and embezzlers in the eye. His five-year prison sentence for possession of hazardous waste without a permit makes John Dillon the worst environmental criminal the four-state region has ever seen.
People rarely get prison time for pollution. They pay fines for releasing toxic fumes in the air, tickets for letting contaminated water trickle into the sewer, Notices of Violation from the Environmental Protection Agency for dumping wet paint in landfills.
Even Ed Sechrest didn't get prison time after his hazardous-waste disposal plant in Kingsville, Missouri, burned down and EPA inspectors accused him of shredding aerosol cans, dumping contaminated military gas masks in a Warrensburg landfill and instructing his employees to hide evidence. Instead, he pleaded guilty and earned a 21-month prison sentence for lying to an insurance company.
Sechrest shares part of the blame for Dillon's trip to Leavenworth: Some of the hazardous waste Dillon was illegally storing at a West Bottoms warehouse had come from Essex Waste Management, Sechrest's Kingsville facility. But the hazardous materials in Dillon's warehouse came from lots of other places, too.
There is plenty of blame to go around. Even the EPA shares some of it. That's where Dillon learned everything he knows about the hazardous-waste business.
EPA scientist James Aycock had never seen anything like the crowded cinder-block warehouse he walked into on November 23, 1998. The building was a former beef-packing plant in the shadow of the James Street viaduct in the West Bottoms. Some of the slaughterhouse equipment remained, including the insulated cooling room and the metal box where, one at a time, the animals were killed and then dumped to the side to be hung. Other parts of the building had collapsed from neglect.
Aycock was most stunned by thousands of 55-gallon barrels -- some metal, some plastic, some full, some empty, some leaking -- stacked to the ceiling and crowding each room.
"It was like a maze," Aycock says.
No one had answered when Aycock and five contractors had knocked on the front door. He led his parade through an open gate and into a building reeking of paint thinner.
He found Dillon alone at the back of the warehouse, unloading more barrels from a semi trailer.
"We had to explain why we were there," Aycock recalls.
Then Aycock picked up the phone and made the kind of call more usual for city police than for EPA scientists. "I called in for backup."
Aycock's crew found massive piles of barrels stacked three high and as many as four deep. The tops of some bulged like Coke cans left in a hot car too long. Gigantic trash bags called Supersacks, some of them full of fish parts, had been flung on top of the stacks. Many grimy old barrels had shiny new green stickers with the words Non Hazardous Waste printed in bold letters.
Aycock didn't find much safety equipment, only a couple of fire extinguishers, one spill kit, a 55-gallon drum of saline to wash out eyes and giant sponges and pads to soak up liquids. The kit was nearly unreachable because of the barrels stacked in front of it. The only working phone was upstairs, a long run from the most likely place a fire might break out.
John Dillon was desperately trying to keep his business going. He'd set up the warehouse operation to decontaminate and reprocess tons of everyday filth -- used motor oil, oil filters, old paint, degreaser, waste ink, the grime washed off of dirty cars, cooking oil, water contaminated by spilled fuel. He collected it from all over town: from a Liberty chocolate factory, from Firestone oil-changing stations. Semi trucks loaded with barrels arrived from Philip Services, a massive hazardous-materials processing plant just down the street from Dillon's warehouse.
Dillon had set up a mini assembly line for cleaning the barrels. He turned them upside down to drain on an angle-iron rack. Then he ran them through an enormous dishwasher-like contraption, crushed them in another machine and loaded them onto a flatbed truck backed up to one of fifteen loading docks.
One of Aycock's men pried open a manhole in the concrete floor of the building.
"There was evidence of something being dumped down there," Aycock says now.
In another part of the building, pallets held teetering stacks of five-gallon paint buckets wrapped in plastic.
Inside a small bathroom, a five-gallon bucket filled with oil sat next to a toilet; floating inside the white bowl was a black liquid that Aycock described as "oily viscous."
Dillon could only watch in embarrassment. The men helping Aycock assess the barrels worked with friends of his.
A week after the EPA first visited, Kansas City, Kansas, code inspectors condemned the building, saying no one could enter without permission.
On December 7, the city's fire marshal ordered firefighters to stay out of the building if it burned, because of "excessive amounts of PCBs and other hazards."
Four days later, the EPA cited Dillon and his business partner, Ted Amberg, with 27 violations. The agency gave them the impossible task of correcting the violations in fourteen days. They didn't.
On January 20, 1999, the EPA issued an administrative order shutting down the business and barring Dillon and Amberg from the property.
"Things were so outrageous," says Ray Bosch, an EPA attorney who helped prosecute the case. "It was clear something had to be done."
John Dillon had grown up less than ten miles from the industrial core of the West Bottoms.
He played kick-the-can on the streets of Prairie Village. He became an Eagle Scout and practiced piano just enough to please his mother. She was a nurse in the Baptist Medical Center operating room. His father sold spices in bulk.
Dillon graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 1977, then followed a friend to Fort Scott Community College, where he played guard and safety for the football team. He and his buddy would drive to the Schoolhouse Disco in Nevada, Missouri, to party with the girls from Crowder Beauty College.
Disillusioned with what he calls "Fort Shit," Dillon transferred to Kansas State University, where he was a walk-on for the football team and enrolled in the predental program. His 5-foot-9-inch, 185-pound frame and his grade point average barely survived the year. He quit the team and decided to pick a new major.
It being K State, Dillon opened the catalogue for the School of Agriculture. He settled on soil science, imagining himself leading a happy life like the ag agent on Green Acres. His intentions were what you'd expect of an Eagle Scout. "I liked the environment. I wanted to protect it."
He took his immersion in rural living seriously, joining the school's soil-judging team. He and his teammates traveled to competitions where they would squeeze and smell fistfuls of dirt, sorting the loess from the alluvium. Dillon's senior year, the team went to nationals.
Dillon graduated in 1982. He traded his 1972 Cadillac El Dorado coupe for a new Ford Bronco and moved back in with his parents.
He worked for a landscaping company and then for a construction company before his dad suggested he get a "real job." The Yellow Pages listed three companies under the heading Environment. One of them was hiring.
The two-year-old federal Superfund law had spawned an industry. Congress had declared that hazardous-waste disposal would no longer be handled on the honor system, and the EPA was starting to look for polluters.
Dillon's new employer, Overland Park's Ecology & Environment Inc., was one of the first businesses organized to help the feds. The company earned an EPA contract to survey industrial companies and learn what they were doing with their waste.
Dillon was one of the soil scientists who would make follow-up calls, driving a tiny car with an EPA logo to see firsthand how businesses disposed of old paint or used hydraulic fluid.
He also helped clean up Times Beach, Missouri, after it became one of the country's biggest environmental nightmares. The small town near St. Louis became infamous when the Centers for Disease Control found it contaminated with dioxin and evacuated it in 1982. The toxic chemical -- which can produce a skin disease with symptoms like severe acne and may cause cancer and birth defects -- had come from Syntex Agribusiness, a chemical plant in Verona, Missouri, that made Agent Orange. In Times Beach, Syntex's dioxin had been mixed with waste oil and used to control dust on the town's roads.
Ultimately, the federal government bought the houses, and Times Beach residents moved out. Dillon was one of the men in white Tyvek suits, gas masks and rubber gloves who took samples of the soil in the abandoned front yards and of the dust on mantles in empty homes. He remembers the flotsam that families had left behind: half-full ashtrays, furniture and children's toys.
With Dillon's data in their hands, crews arrived to level the houses and haul away the debris. Trucks convoyed to the ghost town to remove the houses, strip the yards and ultimately break down the poisonous roads themselves, all of which were incinerated.
Dillon also helped recover forty or fifty barrels of dioxin buried in a park in Aurora, Missouri. Armed with ground-penetrating radar, Dillon's crew crisscrossed the property, feeding the signals to a computer that mapped the park's underground. It was highly advanced technology for the time, as were the air sensors and other equipment the EPA had taught Dillon to use.
"That's where I learned," Dillon says. "That's who taught me."
In 1986, Dillon took a job with Environmental Specialists Inc., which the owners of Kansas City's Tri-city Construction had created in hopes of putting their backhoes and bulldozers to work on hazardous-material spills. Dillon was on call 24 hours a day, ready to haul his vacuum truck, a van filled with shovels and his five-member crew from the construction yard at 83rd and Prospect to tanker-accident scenes. With emergency lights flashing in the background, they would dip the vacuum hose into a fuel-flooded ditch to suck up the liquid, then scrape up the fumy dirt and take it away.
"It was exciting," he says. "I spent hours and hours and hours on the highways and rivers around the Midwest."
Two years later, he joined a friend at Environmental Technology Inc., just west of I-635 on Merriam Drive. That company wanted to broaden its own business beyond cleaning up asbestos. As he'd done before, Dillon helped his new bosses set up a haz-mat team. He then did the same for Interstate Environmental Services Inc., near Truman Sports Complex
There, he met Terry Womack.
A salesman, Womack was impressed with Dillon's work ethic and professionalism. He knew Dillon wouldn't cut corners.
"He would not allow anyone to go in an area without the proper equipment, without the proper safeguards," Womack recalls. "He was very much a stickler for doing things by the book and perhaps going a step further."
With a couple of other partners, Womack and Dillon decided to start their own business -- maybe even provide a little competition to Philip Services.
Though a handful of local companies collected or moved hazardous waste, few had the Kansas or Missouri permits allowing them to store or process it. Philip Services was one of them, operating a campus on the north end of the West Bottoms. Behind one brick building stood giant silo-like tanks, dramatically painted black on the bottom and white on top. Truck-size metal "roll off" boxes sat nearby, lined with plastic and filled with contaminated construction debris. Another building housed full 55-gallon barrels, neatly lined up single-file with enough room between rows to drive a forklift.
Womack and Dillon opened shop in the old Rodeo packing plant a few blocks away. They put huge signs on the side of the cinder-block building: Midwest Industrial Services. They spent $30,000 on special explosion-resistant lighting and installed half a dozen vertical tanks to collect contaminated water. And they began work on what would be an employee locker room with showers and a restroom.
They didn't quite finish, because the business didn't quite happen.
Instead of making money, the partners spent three years fighting with the EPA, which refused to let them take advantage of a loophole in the federal law. Womack says it was a "window of opportunity."
They knew that waste from wood treatment was going to be classified as hazardous beginning on June 6, 1990. So before that date, they found a wood-treating company and signed a contract to dispose of its waste. That forced the EPA to grandfather them in as a licensed treatment facility. Other companies had obtained their permits through the same process.
But the EPA was unwilling to grant Midwest permission to store other types of hazardous waste.
"They really gave us a hard time," Womack recalls. "They kind of outwaited us. Consequently, we ran out of money."
Womack speculates that EPA officials might have had a grudge against Midwest's third partner, who had fought with the EPA in the past. Or the agency might have objected to the condition of Midwest's building, with its sagging ceilings and crumbling walls. "It was not a pretty place," Womack admits.
Dillon believes it had more to do with money. Had there been an accident, Dillon and his partners could not have afforded to clean up the mess. "I don't think they thought we had the financial savvy to get involved in such an endeavor," Dillon says. "Personally, I think they were right."
In retrospect, Dillon might have done well to heed this warning that hard labor alone wasn't enough in the haz-mat business. But he knew that somebody had to do this sort of work, and it was the only kind he'd ever known.
While Womack wrestled with the EPA, Dillon stayed busy cleaning up spills off-site.
"That was the part that kept us alive as a company," Womack says.
Dillon's efforts were not enough to carry the company. He and his partners eventually closed, using the last of their money to clean out their tanks and empty the building so the EPA could do a final inspection.
"That's when I took a hike," says Womack, who now works in construction in Alabama.
Instead of doing the same, Dillon found a new partner.
The environmental cleanup business is an insular one. Competing companies regularly steal each others' employees. But they help each other out, too.
Dillon had known Jim Rutledge for several years. Rutledge had started Rutledge Back Hoe and Septic Tank Service back when the EPA allowed him to dispose of septic waste by spraying it on his Leavenworth County farm and working it into the soil. When regulations changed in the early '90s, he adapted, putting his vacuum trucks to work sucking up hazardous as well as human waste. Dillon had contracted with Rutledge to use Rutledge's trucks. And when Midwest closed, Rutledge paid Dillon back by hiring him.
But soon after, Rutledge sold that part of his business, and Dillon was again looking for work.
So Rutledge agreed to stake Dillon in a business of his own -- with a partner Dillon had never met. Dillon would need a salesman to court new business, so Rutledge introduced him to Ted Amberg. Then Rutledge bought two vacuum trucks and leased them to the new partners, who started Environmental Services and Products in Riverside in 1993.
There was money to be made. During the 1990s, the EPA was cracking down on outdated gas stations, forcing them to upgrade or remove buried tanks and any dirt that might have been contaminated by fuel leaks. Like a lot of small operations, Dillon and Amberg were able to capitalize on the booming market.
Dillon hadn't forgotten the West Bottoms building, and in 1995 they moved back in, leasing the building first from the bank and then from Rutledge, who bought it in 1996.
But there were early signs that Dillon and Amberg were looking at different business plans. While Dillon was making do with a five-year-old Ford F250 with 200,000 miles on it, Amberg insisted on a brand new Ford Ranger four-by-four, Dillon says.
One of the vacuum-truck operators, Kevin Smith, served almost as an independent contractor, lining up his own jobs. Both Smith and Womack remember Dillon as overly trusting.
"He did his job well, and he expected somebody else to do their part," Womack says.
Amberg wasn't quite doing his, according to Dillon. He says his partner wasn't bringing in new business. It wasn't long before the partnership, which had started with $20,000, was in financial straits. Dillon says they were struggling each month to make their $5,000 truck payment to Rutledge and their $3,000 insurance payment.
Then their struggles with the EPA began.
The EPA's file on Environmental Services and Products begins with a 1996 complaint. Someone from a neighboring business had called the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to complain that a vacuum truck was emptying liquid into a manhole near the property.
The KDHE inspector visited the property in May 1996. Jim Fischer, of the KDHE, said the mysterious liquid dump was actually Kansas City, Kansas, public works employees draining a puddle in an alley because they were repairing the pavement. But inside Dillon's warehouse, he found seven lonely barrels that didn't have the required forklift room between them. Their labels and paperwork hadn't been updated, and they weren't being inspected weekly, as regulations required.
Amberg and Dillon quickly rectified the situation.
Three months later, though, the seven barrels began to multiply.
That was when Ed Sechrest's Kingsville plant burned and Sechrest had to shut it down. But even as Essex burned, semi loads full of barrels were still on their way to Kingsville. Dillon agreed to take the nonhazardous materials from Essex. He was expecting a load of used oil filters and dirty Crisco. Mostly that's what he got, but not exclusively. Some of the trucks held more volatile chemicals.
Smith remembers that the trucks arrived almost daily for three weeks. He estimates half contained hazardous waste. Over the objections of frustrated drivers, he would dutifully order them to be put back on the truck.
But Smith wasn't around every morning. And Dillon was sometimes working jobs away from the warehouse. Smith suspects Dillon's employees unloaded plenty of hazardous waste from the Essex-bound trucks. Dillon admits he accepted some barrels marked with hazardous-waste stickers. He says Sechrest told him the waste had come from California, where rules were more strict. The EPA, however, says the rules are the same here as in California.
Sechrest didn't return the Pitch's phone calls, but he made a statement to an EPA investigator on May 11, 2001, from Leavenworth's minimum-security prison, where he was serving time for insurance fraud. He told the EPA's David Clark that he wasn't aware of any hazardous waste sent from Essex to Environmental Services. He said that Essex was required to test only 10 percent of its incoming barrels and that sometimes hazardous waste was mislabeled.
But the barrels coming to the West Bottoms from Essex also came with checks, which gave Amberg an idea.
After all, more nonhazardous waste was arriving daily just down the street, at Philip Services. Dillon says Amberg worked out a deal to take care of that company's barrels for $50 each. Dillon and his men would mix the vegetable oil or old paint with dirt or ash to solidify it. Then they'd test it and take it to the landfill. The agreement brought in a little cash -- but it couldn't cover the cost of paying Dillon's crew.
"It was not nearly enough money. We should have gotten $75 or $100 a drum," Dillon says.
Dillon was seeing less and less of Amberg. In February 1997, he wrote a letter telling his absentee partner that he wanted to change accountants and get a new checking account that would require both their signatures.
In August, he wrote another letter, seeking copies of the company's bank statements and tax returns.
Meanwhile Amberg made another agreement with Philip. For $2.50 a barrel and the scrap value, Dillon and his men would clean out as many empty barrels as Philip wanted to send.
But then the price of scrap metal dropped. At first, Dillon collected $350 for a trailer of crushed barrels driven across the Kansas River to Kaw River Shredding in Kansas City, Kansas. The payment sank to $100, but new dirty barrels kept coming in by the truckload.
That's when the KDHE showed up again.
This second complaint had risen from a warehouse tour. "They were looking to buy the building," Aycock says of the complainants. "They wanted to know why the drums were there."
In November 1997, Roberta Vogel, of the EPA, and Bob Medina, of the KDHE, took a surprise tour of their own.
"They had hundreds of drums on site, which I could not count," Vogel remembers. "I was not able to make any determination of hazardous versus nonhazardous. There was certainly no particular organization to how they would be stored, which may or may not be a problem."
Vogel watched a man washing barrels and wondered if he needed a respirator or protective clothing. One of the barrels outside was full of water and rancid chocolate. Dillon handed Vogel a file of paperwork, but Dillon and Amberg were unable to show complete documentation for the barrels in the building. They told her that barrels brought in for washing did not need to be documented.
Vogel did not cite Dillon or Amberg for any violations.
But Dillon was drowning in barrels. He started to panic.
He wrote another letter to his partner in March 1998.
"During the last 30-60 days, it has become increasingly more apparent that the company has dipped into a very serious situation," Dillon wrote. "Not only is there no money to pay passed bills & expenses, there is no money to pay current bills such as payroll, fuel, lights, etc. Also there are numerous drums of waste at 1st St., that must be processed & disposed of."
Dillon complained about Amberg's absence, the company's tax situation and a missing $3,000 check. "Many more issues past, present and hiding in the future ... must be addressed and solved."
The KDHE's Medina returned July 15. Dillon had asked the state for a special waste permit to take the used oil filters he had collected to Forest View Landfill. Medina says he found a Dumpster lined with plastic and crammed with oily filters that had not been properly punctured to let them fully drain. Some oil was leaking through the plastic onto the ground.
Medina also saw many more barrels in the building than he'd seen on his previous visit. He made a call to the EPA's Aycock. "I told him, 'I don't know what's going on, but you guys need to step it up.'"
The KDHE denied Dillon's permit request.
Dillon paid an attorney $250 to write another letter to Amberg.
And Aycock began to plan a much more thorough inspection.
The EPA branded Dillon's ram shackle building a Superfund site. That didn't make it unique -- there are dozens of Superfund sites in Kansas City alone. But it meant the EPA had no hope that Dillon and Amberg could clean up the mess themselves. The government was going to have to do it for them, tapping into federal dollars set aside for such a situation. The estimated cleanup cost was $50,000.
The EPA's on-scene coordinator, Don Lininger, first ordered 2,000 of the barrels hauled outside to the parking lot, where they were stacked on their sides. They were, Lininger says, "bone dry -- Webster's Dictionary empty."
To the EPA, the empty barrels were evidence of Dillon's slipshod operation. The agency's reports noted that the empty barrels were stacked in front of full barrels, as if Dillon were using them to hide the hazardous wastes. If that wasn't the case, Dillon was just too stupid or lazy to move out the empty barrels.
But Dillon's standards were higher than the EPA's. He would later explain that he was keeping the barrels inside not as subterfuge but because he believed each one needed to be fully drained and rinsed before it could be sent to the shredder.
According to Lininger, Dillon could simply have thrown the barrels in the crusher and shipped them out.
Had he done that, his building would have been half as full. His problems would have been half as bad. Aycock would have been half as shocked. Maybe the results would have been different.
Lininger's crew of a half dozen workers spent almost three weeks cataloguing the remaining 1,800 barrels. The EPA ultimately tested 80 samples, 65 of which turned out to be hazardous waste -- more than enough to make a case against Amberg and Dillon. The report estimated the cleanup cost for the building to be $155,000.
But Dillon was going to try to make a case of his own: that the EPA was being careless, that the EPA was contaminating the property, that the EPA was spilling hazardous waste.
In June 1999, more than five inches of rain fell on Kansas City. Having spent many rainy days in his building, Dillon knew the parking lot would flood. When it did, he shot a video showing stacks of barrels with an oil slick gurgling around them -- proof that the EPA had allowed oil to spill out of barrels it claimed were clean.
Lininger acknowledges the oil slick but won't link it to the barrels. He says it came from a giant, open-topped tank on the property that was filled with oil and that the rain caused the tank to overflow. He says his crew hadn't emptied the tank prior to the rain because oil is not technically a hazardous waste and he would need money from a different federal fund to clean it up.
Along with Superfund, the Dillon-Amberg case was receiving the attention of another arm of the EPA -- its criminal-investigation division.
EPA investigator David Clark spent hours talking with ex-employees.
One told him Dillon had come to the building at night to dump waste down the manhole inside the building and that he had taken other drums to the farm of a friend who was losing his property.
Another said he had been ordered to spray paint over hazardous-waste labels and that both Amberg and Dillon had let waste tanks behind the building drain onto the ground.
A third former employee said Dillon had ordered him to drain gasoline-contaminated water into the parking lot.
Dillon says none of it happened and that his employees were lowlifes with nothing better to do than tell tales to EPA inspectors over free McDonald's cheeseburgers.
The owners of the old packing house next door to Dillon's building piled on, too, telling investigators that Dillon had pumped oil into their basement. This story didn't get far. The second building had been used as an oil-processing plant and a spill had been reported there years earlier.
Others don't believe Dillon would have handled waste in the way he was charged.
Former employee Smith says he never saw Dillon do anything inappropriate with the waste he was collecting.
Likewise, Womack and Rutledge believed Dillon's standards to be impeccable.
Another former Dillon associate, Chris Davis, who ran his own business out of Dillon's building and trained some of Dillon's employees, is no big fan of Dillon's. Still, Davis questions the sources of the most troubling accusations. "I wouldn't trust either one as far as I can throw them," he said of Dillon's former employees.
The EPA ultimately determined that Dillon, Amberg and Philip Services all were responsible for the mess in the West Bottoms. But the list should also have included EPA officials, who left 2,000 of Dillon's disgusting drums outside in the parking lot for more than a year and a half.
Philip Services, part of an international-waste-disposal company, was able to buy its way out of trouble. When the EPA told corporate officials that their responsibility didn't end when their trucks were unloaded at Dillon's warehouse, they cut a deal with the EPA. In exchange for forgiveness, Philip would take over the cleanup. "We would provide all disposals," says Mark Browning, location manager. "Our liability would end so that we wouldn't get hit."
The company began its work September 16, 2000, and filed a final report in March of this year. Philip spent $226,710 to clean the building, empty the tanks and dispose of 1,841 empty barrels along with 1,236 barrels containing nonhazardous materials and about 300 barrels with hazardous materials.
For their parts, Amberg and Dillon were indicted on June 28, 2001, for three federal crimes: storing hazardous waste without a permit, lying to investigators, and storing waste in a way that puts another person in "imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury."
Amberg pleaded guilty first. On January 29, 2002, he told U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia that he had lied to the EPA during the November 1997 inspection. He agreed to cooperate if prosecutors would dismiss the other charges. Amberg declined the Pitch's interview requests, saying through his lawyer that he wanted to put the matter behind him and get on with his life.
On February 4, Dillon pleaded guilty to possession of hazardous waste.
Judge Murguia sentenced Amberg to sixty days of house arrest, three years of probation and a $2,500 fine.
Prosecutors would not do Dillon the same favor. Because he pleaded six days after Amberg, Dillon was the one to answer for the thousands of man-hours of investigation, the $200,000 spent by the EPA to deal with the situation and the countless hours of court preparations.
"He was the last guy standing," says Will Bunch, Dillon's attorney.
Even at the end, Dillon refused take the easy way out. Believing it would lead to a lighter sentence, Bunch encouraged him to plead guilty to lying, as Amberg had done. But Dillon refused. "He wasn't going to plead guilty to something he didn't do," Bunch says. "He knew he had stuff on the premises he didn't have a permit for. ... He just never denied the stuff was in there."
Federal guidelines mandated that Dillon receive the maximum prison time. On July 29, Judge Murguia sentenced him to five years.
Dillon has been inside Leavenworth before. At least he knows it's clean.
When he worked at Environmental Technologies, Dillon and his men did a job inside the main prison, cleaning up contaminated oil that had leaked from an electrical transformer.
It was no different from hundreds of other jobs during fifteen years of doing Kansas City's dirty work. He'd drained and then righted a fuel tanker that tipped over in a Marysville, Kansas, woman's front yard. He'd neutralized a load of sodium hydroxide spilled in a Booneville, Missouri, ditch after a train-truck collision. He'd done his best to soak up fuel oil that mysteriously began percolating into Brush Creek just east of the Plaza from an old tank buried outside the Twin Oaks Apartments.
As in each of those cases, Dillon cleaned up the mess. Then he tested samples from the equipment and concrete to make sure the job was done right, just like the EPA had taught him.