Friday, February 9, 2007
Man Who Allegedly Spilled Mercury on Local Subway Platform Arraigned
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The man believed to be responsible for spilling mercury on a Los Angeles subway train platform last December pled not guilty yesterday afternoon at his arraignment in Div. 82 of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Los Angeles City Attorney ’s Office said.
Twenty-seven-year-old Los Angeles resident Armando Bustamante Miranda—whom prosecutors described as a transient—was recently charged with one count of releasing an offensive or harmful substance in a public area and carrying a toxic material in a public transit facility, following an investigation by local and federal authorities.
Prosecutors said videotape footage from a Metropolitan Transportation Authority surveillance camera, taken Dec. 22, shows Bustamante spinning a bottle containing mercury, which at some point was knocked over and caused mercury to spill onto the ground.
Deputy City Attorney Patty Bilgin, who supervises her office’s environmental justice unit, said the incident occurred on the platform at the Pershing Square stop of the Metro Red Line.
Bustamante, who is charged with violating Penal Code Sec. 375, faces up to one year in jail and a $2,250 fine.
“Obviously, mercury is a listed toxic substance and it’s hazardous to people who are touching it,” she said. “Certainly to my knowledge, this is the first time something like this has happened.”
The statute makes it a crime “to throw, drop, pour, deposit, release, discharge or expose, or to attempt to throw, drop, pour, deposit, release, discharge or expose in, upon or about any theater, restaurant, place of business, place of amusement or any place of public assemblage, any liquid, gaseous or solid substance or matter of any kind which is injurious to person or property, or is nauseous, sickening, irritating or offensive to any of the senses,” or to manufacture or possess a substance with such intent.
Deputy City Attorney Vaughn Minassian, who is prosecuting the case, could not be reached for further details on the matter.
Bustamante is in police custody on felony charges in a separate matter, the City Attorney’s Office noted, but was granted bail on the mercury charge.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company