Ohio CWA CrimeBox for the week of January 16 – 22, 2023
One of 56 Criminal Prosecutions under the Clean Water Act in OH (from 1989-2020)
Cyanide devastates branch of Rocky River, no fish left alive for three miles
Environmental Crimes: Historic Case: Fiscal Year 2013, CR_2493
The principal defendant in this case is a collectible coin company, at one time engaged in metal plating and printing. The business operates from a site near the east branch of the Rocky River at Strongsville.
The federal district court in Ohio heard that a commercial waste hauler had refused to empty the defendant’s disposal bin containing marked drums of hazardous material. Two drums bearing the skull-and-cross-bones symbol were subsequently removed from the disposal bin at the direction of the co-defendant.
The co-defendant, spouse of the company President, ordered an employee to place the hazardous material drums next to a storm drain in the company parking lot.
Investigators determined the defendant punctured a hole near the bottom of a drum with a hammer and sharp tool, allowing the toxic contents to run down the storm drain.
Days later, Ohio Department of Natural Resources began to receive reports of dead fish in the East Branch Rocky River.
Water samples were found to contain cyanide, determined to be the cause of the fish kill. In all, 30,893 dead fish were counted over a three mile stretch of the tributary.
The defendant corporation was convicted of one count violation of the Clean Water Act, sentenced to pay restitution of one dollar per dead fish to the Division of Wildlife for the restocking of the Rocky River, and a community service payment of $300,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks, and two years probation.
The co-defendant determined responsible for the release of liquid cyanide to the storm drain was convicted on charge of conspiracy, sentenced to a federal fine of $5,000 and twelve months probation.
Federal fines: $5,000; Restitution: $30,893; Community Service: $300,000 Probation: 36 months
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