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Former Coos Bay/North Bend Water Treatment Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Water Testing Results

July 24, 2012

Eugene, Ore. - Tammy Young, 45, of Coos Bay, Oregon, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement to a government agency. Young was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

Young was charged by information with making a false statement on monthly monitoring reports to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), a felony charge. Young, while serving as the Water Treatment Plant Supervisor and Water Quality Technician, submitted monthly monitoring reports for drinking water which contained false test results for coliform bacteria. She was fired as a result of this conduct. The OHA relies on the accuracy of information from water treatment plant supervisors to ensure that the water supplied by the Coos Bay/North Bend Public Water Board is in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and is safe for the public to drink.

Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, which is administered and enforced by the OHA, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Coos Bay/North Bend Public Water Board must provide drinking water that meets standards to ensure that the water is safe for human consumption. Drinking water is tested for coliform bacteria, a bacteria naturally present in the environment, which at certain levels, may indicate the presence of other, more harmful bacteria. EPA establishes levels of coliform bacteria permitted in drinking water. Regular testing allows public water systems to monitor these levels and ensure that there are no safety concerns with the water supply and no health risks.

There is no indication that Young's actions caused any actual harm to individuals who consumed drinking water from the plant.

"The public puts great trust in those responsible for overseeing our water supplies," stated U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. "There is a reason why strict guidelines and monitoring of our drinking water have been put into place, and the U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to work with the EPA and OHA to ensure that the provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act are strictly enforced."

"Defendant Young chose to ignore a law that protects the safety of the water we drink. When drinking water quality is compromised, people get sick or worse," said Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in the Northwest. "The government relies on accurate analytical reports to demonstrate that water is safe to drink. Defendant Young's actions threatened drinking water safety at local schools, a hospital, and a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. Her prosecution and plea should send a clear message to anyone contemplating personal gain at public safety's expense: we will find you and bring you to justice."

This investigation was conducted by the EPA-Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Oregon Health Authority Center for Health Protection. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy E. Potter.

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