A former Environmental Protection Agency consultant who supervised test drilling at Love Canal and other hazardous waste sites and appeared in court as an expert witness for the government has been indicted on charges that he fabricated his academic credentials.
David Bruce Twedell, as a geologist for a McLean consulting firm called JRB Associates, worked on a number of major EPA projects for nearly two years from December, 1979, until November, 1981, according to the government.
The 14-count indictment, released yesterday by the Justice Department, said that JRB Associates was advised on June 23, 1981, that Twedell's credentials were fraudulent but continued to employ him and to include copies of his false resume in bids on federal projects. The consulting company is not charged in the indictment.
Robin Woods, speaking for the EPA, said yesterday that JRB Associates has 11 contracts with the agency worth $26 million. She said the EPA would have no comment on Twedell's work for it pending court action on the case.
Gregory Woods, the president of JRB, referred all questions to the firm's parent company, Science Applications Inc. of La Jolla, Calif. Dennis Heitt, vice president for administration of Science Applications, said he would not comment on facts involved in pending litigation.
"The corporation has been fully cooperative with the government," Heitt said. "The company has thoroughly reviewed what occurred and believes that neither it nor its officials acted improperly."
Twedell, who faces up to 70 years in prison and fines of $54,000, has surrendered to the FBI in Orlando, Fla.
The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury in Buffalo, charging Twedell with perjury, fraud and false statements. It said that Twedell, 30, who called himself "Dr. Twedell," claimed to have a PhD and a BS in geology from the University of Houston and to have been a former manager of the NASA Lunar Space Laboratory in Houston.
In fact, the indictment says, Twedell flunked out of the university's undergraduate geology program after a few semesters "as a result of obtaining Ds, Fs and Incompletes in the few undergraduate geology courses he took."
JRB was one of several firms hired by the EPA in 1980 to sink test wells, do soil core samples and other work at four Hooker Chemical sites around Niagara Falls, N.Y. The sites were targets of a $124 million federal lawsuit by the EPA and Justice Department. Hooker is accused of dumping about 70,000 tons of toxic wastes at the sites, known as Love Canal.
According to the indictment, Twedell was sent to the site by JRB as an expert in "matters concerning migration of chemicals in soil, geohydrology and surface and subsurface hydrogeological systems as well as other matters in which Dr. Twedell was uniquely qualified."
After the government entered into a settlement with Hooker in January, 1981, on action to be taken at Love Canal, a local citizens' group complained about the settlement and complained that the water studies done by Twedell were "the product of incompetent scientific work."
The perjury charge against Twedell arose from his court testimony as an expert witness on Love Canal in September, 1981, when he testified under oath about his academic credentials.
After questions arose later about Twedell's qualifications, the Justice Department immediately moved to have his expert testimony stricken from the court record in the Hooker case.
Twedell participated on behalf of JRB in at least two other EPA projects, the indictment said.
Moreover, five days after Twedell resigned from JRB, the indictment said, the firm submitted a proposal to the state of New York to provide expertise on hazardous waste sites, naming a new consulting firm, Twedell and Associates, as a subcontractor.