A Detroit man who is being sued by authorities for stockpiling medical and laboratory waste in rental storage units apologized when contacted by phone this week, saying he was overwhelmed by the business he started.

“I didn’t do any of what I did maliciously. I was just trying to make some money,” said Raoul Mangrum Jr., who, as owner of Biochem Technical Services LLC, allegedly violated state waste disposal laws in a manner that drew strong condemnation from Michigan environmental regulators this week.

“I did the wrong things because I let the business get over my head,” Mangrum told MLive. “That’s the gist of it. I apologize. It was wrong for me, wrong for my company, wrong for the state — wrong for the community all the way around and I apologize.”

“I do take responsibility for my actions,” he said.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) disclosed a lawsuit against Mangrum this week in a news release, in which the agency denounced the Detroit business owner’s waste mismanagement and public health code violations that date back several years.

EGLE wants a judge to order reimbursement of $53,000 in state cleanup and disposal costs and bar Mangrum from doing further business in medical waste collection and disposal.

“Mr. Mangrum’s actions are the most egregious violations we have seen under Michigan’s medical waste law,” said Elizabeth M. Browne, director of EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “Businesses involved in managing medical waste have an obligation to do their work in a way that protects Michigan residents. EGLE is committed to holding Mr. Mangrum accountable and protecting public health and the environment.”

According to a September lawsuit filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, Mangrum collected sharps, body tissue samples, contaminated bandages, laboratory equipment and other medical waste items from doctor’s offices, laboratories and funeral homes. Instead of taking the items to a landfill or incinerator, he allegedly cached them in local storage units.

The state claims Mangrum stored the waste under aliases and ignored orders to properly dispose of it.

Mangrum allegedly stored medical waste at a Public Storage facility on West Eight Mile Road and a U-Haul facility on Eight Mile Road in Southfield, as well as frozen sea lampreys from a laboratory at the Detroit Cold Storage facility in Livonia.

According to the state’s complaint, inspectors found the waste in May and June of 2019 and revoked Mangrum’s business license shortly thereafter. The state cleaned up and removed the waste items the following summer.

The state says Mangrum has a history of violating medical waste laws. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of infectious waste littering following a 2013 fire at an abandoned warehouse on Martin Street in Detroit that Mangrum bought for $1,000. As crews fought the blaze, needles, scalpels, blood vials and filled biohazard bags wound up outside on the sidewalk and accessible to the public.

Mangrum also previously stored medical waste at Schaefer Lyndon Self Storage in Detroit, a commercial building on Fort Street and in a residential garage on Monica Street, EGLE said.

Mangrum was sentenced to 60 days in the Wayne County Jail and paid $3,000 to the Wayne County Environmental Protection Fund after the fire, EGLE said.

Despite the fire and littering conviction, Mangrum was apparently able to renew his Medical Waste Producer license with the state in 2017, according to the complaint.

A message left with EGLE staff was not returned on Thursday.
When contacted by phone on Thursday, Jan. 13, Mangrum said he was not aware he was being sued, although he admitted to receiving unopened correspondence from the state. In its release, EGLE says he was served with a complaint Dec. 10.

Oakland County Circuit Court records show his case is scheduled for a trial on July 7 and discovery began this week following case status conferences.

Mangrum said he’s no longer working in the waste industry. He characterized his actions as being the result of poor decisions and said he’s trying to resolve his obligations.

“All I can do is be honest. I don’t see why this is newsworthy,” he said. “But I was a young man that started a company and got up over my head and wasn’t practicing proper business practices. I did a lot of the wrong things. And I was prosecuted. I was fined. I did time. I eventually hope to pay back the state for the money they charged me for essentially the cleanup of where I was storing. I’m trying to repair my life from that venture in other ways and eventually get back to taking care of the state for what they say I’m obligated for.”

This post, Detroit Man Apologizes for Stockpiling Medical Waste in Storage Units, was shared by M Live on January 13, 2022.

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