HACKENSACK, N.J. - They're accused of smuggling chemicals, illegally disposing of hazardous wastes and discharging pollutants into the air and water - and now they're on the "wanted" list.

Their photos appear on a new federal Environmental Protection Agency Web site. The public is being asked to check the site and contact the agency if any of the mug shots look familiar. The Web site features pictures, biographical details and case histories of 23 fugitives sought by the EPA's criminal investigation unit.

Armed officers from that unit have full law enforcement powers to investigate environmental cases that go beyond regulatory infractions and criminal activity.

"We want more eyes out there," said agency spokesman Dave Ryan, explaining the decision to create the list at epa.gov/fugitives.

The fugitives on the list have yet to be prosecuted for environmental violations and some are believed to have fled the country.

One person is a former top executive of the U.S. headquarters for Saybolt International, an environmental testing laboratory formerly based in Parsippany, N.J.

In 1998, Frerik Pluimers, a 62-year-old Dutch national, was accused along with company president David Mead of conspiring to pay a $50,000 bribe to Panamanian government officials. The bribery came to light during an EPA investigation of data falsification at Saybolt. Mead was convicted of the charge, but Pluimers fled and is believed to be in the Netherlands. Saybolt later merged with Core Laboratories and relocated to Houston.

The Web site includes information on the last-known whereabouts of the fugitives.

Anyone who encounters a fugitive should notify the EPA by submitting the "Report a Fugitive" form on the Web site, or contact local police.


© 2008, North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Visit The Record Online at http://www.northjersey.com/

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.