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Man sentenced for backyard hazardous waste dump

November 15, 2011 |  1:23 pm

A Reseda man who kept a stockpile of ammunition in his backyard that caught fire and exploded was sentenced to five years in federal prison, authorities said Tuesday.

Edward Wyman, 64, was convicted in April of felony illegal storage of hazardous waste that knowingly placed others in danger of death or serious injury. 

He could have received a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but prosecutors said Wyman's five-year sentence sentence is the longest handed down by a California federal judge in a hazardous waste case.   

Wyman collected and stored thousands of rounds of ammunition, lead-contaminated waste that he collected from shooting ranges, hundreds of pounds of decades-old gunpowder and military M6 cannon powder and industrial solvents in his backyard without a permit.

"It really was a witch's brew of toxins out there," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Joseph Johns. "It was a powder keg waiting to be lit."

The stockpile was discovered in 2009 after it caught fire, causing a "thunderous explosion" that rocked the neighborhood, Johns said.

Thousands of rounds of ammunition stored in the yard began to cook off and explode, sending shrapnel and bullets flying.

No one was injured, but Wyman's five grandchildren were in the house at the time.

Arson investigators were never able to determine what caused the fire, Johns said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Wyman was ordered to pay $800,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for costs associated with a 47 day cleanup, during which contractors had to call out LAPD bomb squad officers seven times to handle possible explosives mixed into the burned debris.

-- Abby Sewell