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Uranium Processing Company Pleads Guilty to Poisoning Migratory Birds

Spill of organic solvent killed geese and ducks

WASHINGTON – Cotter Corp., headquartered in Denver, Colo., pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado for its role in the poisoning deaths of migratory birds at its uranium processing facility near Cañon City, Colo., the Justice Department announced.

Cotter Corp. pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, in connection with a spill of approximately 4,500 gallons of organic solvent on Oct. 21, 2005, which escaped from a building at the processing facility and flowed into a catchment pond. Approximately 40 geese and ducks were killed after coming into contact with the solvent in the pond, which was removed by Cotter employees within a few days of the spill.

Under the plea agreement, Magistrate Kathleen Tafoya sentenced the company to pay the maximum fine of $15,000, make additional restitution of $15,000 and be placed on 12 months’ probation. During this time, the company is required to prepare and implement an environmental compliance plan designed to prevent future spills and ensure speedy, effective clean-up of any discharges that might occur.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a federal law that imposes a misdemeanor sanction for the pursuit, harm, capture, taking or killing of several hundred species of birds without prior license or permit.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The case was prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Robert S. Anderson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda McMahan of the District of Colorado.