February 6, 2012
Department of Justice
United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee
Former Sewage Treatment Plant Operator Sentenced To Six Months In Prison for Falsifying Monitoring Reports
Falsifications Hid Failures Disinfect the Sewage Prior to Discharge.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Donald Jack Clark, 58, of Niota, Tenn., was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release in the U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga, by the Honorable Harry S. Mattice, Jr., U.S. District Judge. A special condition of Clark’s supervised release is that he will serve six months on home detention following his release from prison. Clark was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.
The sentence was the result of a guilty plea to 12 counts of making false documents required under the City of Niota’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Federal Clean Water Act. The indictment charged Clark with falsifying monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports and Monthly Operating Reports from January 2008 through December 2010. The falsifications were intended to cover up Clark’s failure to properly operate the sewage treatment plant’s chlorination system, designed to disinfect the waste water prior to its discharge to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River. Clark had been a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator for over 14 years at the time of the incidents.
The indictment and subsequent conviction of Clark was the result of an investigation conducted by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Criminal Investigation Division and EPA Office of Inspector General.
William C. “Bill” Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, commented, “By falsifying the reports and claiming that he was properly disinfecting the waste water prior to its discharge, Clark potentially put others at risk for coming in contact with microbial organisms that could cause serious illnesses and diseases. This prosecution and sentence sends a clear message that those who would undermine our federal programs intended to protect human health and the environment by falsifying reports will be vigorously prosecuted.”
The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris of the Knoxville U. S. Attorney’s Office.