Barnett Pleads Guilty To Introducing Pollutant Into A Sewer System Knowing It Would Damage Property
SALT LAKE CITY - Slade E. Barnett, Jr., age 48, of Camano Island, Washington, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday morning to introducing a pollutant into a sewer system that he knew would cause property damage. He faces up to three years in prison for the conviction. U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell set sentencing in the case for January 16, 2014.
Barnett was charged with knowingly introducing a pollutant into a sewer system that he knew or should have known would cause property damage and making a false statement in a document in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 11, 2012. At times relevant to the charges, Barnett was the principal agent for Denali Industries, LLC, in American Fork, Utah.
Denali Industries, LLC, was located within the Lakeside Planned Industrial Park in American Fork. The building in which Denali did business had a trench drain that ran the length of the indoor shop. This trench, according to court documents, connected to a grease trap, which discharged into a gravity-fed sewer line that Lakeside owned. Through a series of pumps and lift stations, Lakeside’s pressurized sewer line connected into the gravity-fed sewer line that formed part of American Fork’s municipal sewer system. This sewer line of American Fork connected into the publicly owned treatment works of the Timpanogos Special Services District, according to the plea agreement.
Barnett admitted that on three dates in March and June of 2008, he was the responsible corporate officer at Denali. He stipulated that he had knowledge that others working at Denali introduced pollutants such as waste vegetable oil and tallow, among other things, into the sewer system. He agreed that he reasonably should have known that these pollutants could cause damage to the sewer system’s pipes and lift-station pumps. Although he had the authority to stop these acts, he admitted he failed to do so. He acknowledged that the introduction of the pollutants into the sewer system knocked out the lift station pumps, which required their replacement on March 24, 2008, and June 4, 2008. On about June 25, 2008, these pollutants clogged approximately 300 feet of sewer system pipe, which required the evacuation and replacement of parts of the sewer system.
As a part of the plea agreement, the United States and Barnett agreed that he should pay $15,000 in restitution for the damage his crimes caused to the sewer system.
David B. Barlow, United States Attorney in Utah, said, “This is not a case about somebody putting a little bacon grease down the sink at their home. This case is about a business introducing enough waste vegetable oil and tallow into the sewer system to cause parts of it to fail on at least three occasions within a three-month period. When businesses jeopardize the sewer systems we all depend upon to keep us safe from disease, the Clean Water Act demands that we hold the leaders of these businesses personally accountable.”
“Today’s plea sends a clear message to other potential violators that companies and their senior executives that fail to dispose of their wastes legally and in an environmentally sound manner will be held responsible for their crimes," said Jeffrey Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Utah.