United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
SEATTLE BUSINESS OWNER INDICTED FOR INDUSTRIAL INCIDENT THAT EXPOSED JUVENILE WORKER TO CHLORINE GAS
Defendant Allegedly Directed Disposal of Chemicals that Resulted in Chlorine Gas Exposure
PATRICK DOOLEY, 59, the owner of Bargains, Inc., aka AAA Liquidating Services, Inc., appeared in U.S. District Court this afternoon after being indicted for three felony violations of the Clean Water Act and one felony count of witness tampering. DOOLEY entered pleas of “Not Guilty” as to all counts. Trial before U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman was set for October 11, 2011.
According to the Indictment, in August 2010, DOOLEY directed a juvenile employee to dispose of surplus commercial chemical cleaning products by dumping them down a toilet at the company’s South Seattle warehouse. Acting under DOOLEY’s supervision, the juvenile employee proceeded to dispose of multiple five-gallon containers of liquid bleach and an acidic laundry solution. DOOLEY failed to provide any personal protective equipment nor instruct the juvenile employee to take any precautions. The two chemicals reacted in the toilet bowl to produce chlorine gas of a sufficient concentration to cause immediate physical symptoms. Once exposed to the chlorine gas, the juvenile employee exited the warehouse. He continued experiencing breathing difficulties, vomited and eventually lost consciousness. Emergency medical personnel responded and transported the employee to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released.
Finally, the Indictment alleges DOOLEY instructed another employee to falsely characterize his employment status and compensation arrangement to law enforcement officers in an attempt to obstruct the federal investigation.
DOOLEY is charged with three Clean Water Act violations including: discharging or causing the discharge of materials in violation of pretreatment standards, discharging pollutants exhibiting a pH lower than 5.0, and discharging pollutants or hazardous substances which he knew or reasonably should have known could cause personal injury or property damage. Each violation is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The witness tampering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Diggs and Jim Oesterle.