In January this year, federal agents from the USEPA descended upon Billmark Company, a metal plating company in Haltom City, TX, pursuant to a search warrant issued as a part of a criminal investigation into the discharge of cadmium into Fort Worth’s wastewater system. Billmark does have a permit to treat wastewater, that allows cadmium to be removed before it enters the treatment system.
According to the search warrant, in 2009 Fort Worth’s Village Creek water treatment plant began seeing higher levels of cadmium and began to investigate possible sources. According to the search warrant, the city traced the source to Billmark. The tracing used closed-circuit cameras inserted into the water lines. Apparently the investigation found an “unaccounted for ‘suspect’ sewer outfall” originating in one of three buildings operated Billmark.
According to the search warrant, Billmark had a history of problems dating to the 1980s, including, according to the search warrant, the “bypassing their in-house wastewater treatment system by running a hose from a wastewater storage tank directly into a toilet drain” that discharged directly into the main sewer line.
All typical investigation stuff. Here comes the “oops” part. According to news reports, the owner, Mark Shafer, claimed the “extra” line was from a house that was on the property more than forty (40) years ago (the USEPA agent claims he could find no such records that a house ever existed on the property). If that is true, the part about a house being there, probably not an issue; however, these are the types of things that become obstruction charges in resulting indictments. Then, even though not on camera, Mr. Shafer apparently told the local news station reporter that “he and his company have done nothing wrong and treat the wastewater before it is discharged into the sewer system.”
Can anyone guess as to what my advice would have been?
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