The Cyanide Canary
On a crisp summer morning in Soda Springs, Idaho, twenty-year-old Scott Dominguez kissed his fiancée goodbye and went to work for Allan Elias, the owner of Evergreen Resources, an enterprise Dominguez thought was in the business of producing fertilizer from mining waste. A former high school wrestler blessed with Tom Cruise-like good looks, Dominguez seemed to have unlimited potential, but by eleven o'clock that morning he was fighting for his life, pulled unconscious from a cyanide-laced storage tank and not expected to live through the night.
In Seattle, Special Agent Joseph Hilldorfer of the Environmental Protection Agency was given the job of finding out what happened to Dominguez and why. Initially Hilldorfer did not want the case, still frustrated by an intense two-year investigation that concluded with corporate polluters walking out of a federal courthouse free. But as he learned more, Hilldorfer, the son of a Pittsburgh cop with a blue-collar work ethic, was touched by Scott's suffering and outraged at Elias's callous disregard for his employees' well-being.
Hilldorfer and his partner, Special Agent Bob Wojnicz, joined forces with seasoned Boise Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsameter and an indefatigable, brilliant young attorney from the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section named David Uhlmann. Together they would uncover the horrifying truths and build the criminal case against Elias.
A former New York whiz kid and Arizona realestate and business mogul, Elias owned businesses that had polluted Idaho with hazardous waste for nearly a decade. Yet Elias never spent a single day in jail, openly boasted of beating the environmental quality regulations, and avoided any significant fines. Would this case be any different?
Hilldorfer, Uhlmann, and the government trial team embarked on an epic courtroom battle that would stretch them to the limits. What began as a struggle for justice for one young man became a fight by the EPA for its very ability to enforce the nation's environmental laws and to bring environmental polluters to justice. In the balance was whether Allan Elias would ever spend a day in jail.
Gripping, powerful, and compulsively readable, The Cyanide Canary is a major achievement in the classic tradition of A Civil Action, a book that unfolds like fiction yet is alarmingly true.
Published By Free Press
Publish Date: September, 2004
Hardcover, US $26.00
"The Cyanide Canary" often reads like a mystery or thriller, but it is, unfortunately, true. Though the book is crammed with detail and deep analysis, it reads quickly. It often is bone-chilling in its intensity and in the facts it reveals. This is a startling chronicle of just how far some businesses will go in pursuit of profit and how little regard they have for the safety or well-being of their employees. Caution: This book will make you angry."
DAN HAYS, Statesman Journal, October 3, 2004
"The Cyanide Canary is a marvelously suspenseful tale...a bona fide thriller pitting joyous, decent good guys against a villain without a scintilla of redeeming social value. Who wins in this robust scenario? Read the book and find out."
Washington Post, Sept. 24,2004
"...As compelling as any brilliantly written murder mystery...
A roller-coaster ride of a book."
New York Times Best Selling Author, Ann Rule
"...An important book for anyone concerned about the world around them."
Former EPA Administrator, Christie Todd Whitman"...An electrically charged narrative... A top-notch nonfiction legal thriller."
Kirkus Starred Review
"...Successfully fleshes out the excitement and the difficulty of prosecuting environmental criminals in the U.S."
"A gripping, page-turning drama...a must-read for anybody concerned about corporate crime and irresponsibility."
New York Times Best Selling Author, Joel Balkan
"An enthralling legal drama. This account engages the reader,
evoking both outrage over worker safety and suspense over the outcome of the trial. The authors...tell a fully rounded, gripping story of how environmental crime is prosecuted in the real world."
Booklist Starred Review