News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 881-6309

Agrichemical Company Pleads Guilty to Criminal Violations of Clean Water Act

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that Effingham-Clay Service Company, Inc., an Effingham-based agrichemical company, pled guilty in the Circuit Court of Clay County to two counts of “Negligent Unpermitted Point Source Discharge,” which are violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act:

“The charges stem from a December 9, 2008, incident involving Jerry D. Troyer, an employee of Effingham-Clay Service Company, Inc., allegedly transporting a 1,000 gallon tank containing pesticide contaminated wastewater from Effingham-Clay Service’s Louisville, Illinois, facility to two different remote rural Clay County locations and opening a release valve, discharging contaminated wastewater into roadside ditches.  A citizen complaint led to an investigation by Illinois EPA’s Emergency Response Unit and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“Following an Illinois State Police investigation, a Clay County Grand Jury returned a six count Indictment against Troyer, charging him with two counts of knowingly discharging a contaminant to waters of the State without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Class 4 felonies), two counts of water pollution, and two counts of criminal disposal of waste (Class A misdemeanors).  The charges to which the company pled guilty are Class A misdemeanors and were based on their having negligently supervised Troyer, thus enabling him to commit the alleged violations.  Troyer’s charges remain pending and his jury trial is scheduled to begin on March 14, 2011.  An Indictment is a way in which a criminal charge is filed; all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“As a result of its guilty plea, the Company was sentenced to 12 months conditional discharge and ordered to pay of fine of $20,000 ($10,000 per count), plus court costs.  In addition, the company is required to provide enhanced safety and environmental training for all company employees who manage or handle agrichemicals.  It must also designate an individual at each facility responsible for ensuring compliance with all environmental and agricultural laws, regulations and permit conditions and to report and address any violations.

“The Company must also amend its agrichemical containment and disposal policy to include proper management of any liquid waste generated during cleaning and washing of agrichemical processing and application equipment, and create and maintain a daily written log at each facility of the volume and nature of all agrichemical liquid waste generated, contained, stored on site, and removed off site.  This log must be available upon request and subject to inspection by the Illinois EPA and Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“In a companion matter, the State brought a separate proceeding seeking forfeiture from the company of an amount of money equal to the value of all economic benefit incurred as a direct or indirect result of the violations, as well as the value of any vehicle or conveyance used in perpetration thereof.  Without admitting liability the forfeiture claim was settled by the company for $180,000.00, which amount was divided between the Illinois State Police, the Clay County State’s Attorney and the Illinois EPA Hazardous Waste Fund. Illinois EPA attorney Dan Merriman acted as Court-appointed Special Prosecutor in the case.”

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.

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