Louisiana Jury Convicts General Manager/former Owner of Arkla Disposal Services of Violations of Clean Water Act and Obstructing an EPA Investigation
Untreated Wastewater Dumped into Red River
WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Shreveport, La., has convicted John Tuma, 54, of Centerville, Texas, of discharging untreated wastewater directly into the Red River without a permit, discharging untreated wastewater into the city of Shreveport sewer system in violation of its permit and obstructing an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspection, announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno and Western District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley.
Father and son, John Tuma and Cody Tuma, 28, of Shreveport, were both charged in a five-count indictment with violations of the Clean Water Act, conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to illegal discharges coming from the Arkla Disposal Services Inc., a facility in Shreveport. The Arkla facility received off-site wastewater from industrial processes and from oilfield exploration and production facilities for treatment at the Arkla facility.
“It was irresponsible, illegal and potentially harmful to the health of city residents and their environment for Mr. Tuma to conspire to dump untreated industrial wastewater into Shreveport’s sewer system,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This case is an example of how the Clean Water Act protects the health and safety of the American people.”
“This case was about a defendant who had no concern about the effects of discharging untreated wastewater into the Red River or the people that his actions harmed,” said U.S. Attorney Finley. “The verdict of this jury should send a message that disregarding laws designed to protect citizens will not be taken lightly. Louisiana is a state with precious natural resources, which our office, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, will continue to protect.”
“The defendant dumped thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater directly into the Red River,” said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Louisiana. “Improperly discharged wastewater can sicken or injure people, fish and wildlife. Today’s guilty verdict shows that those who try to save money by cutting corners will be vigorously prosecuted.”
Cody Tuma pleaded guilty in February 2012 to one count of negligently discharging pollutants into the Red River without a permit. He faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison or a fine of not more than $100,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the unlawful conduct, or both. Sentencing for Cody Tuma has been set for June 20, 2012.
John Tuma will be sentenced July 25, 2012. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, three years in prison on each of the Clean Water Act violations and five years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge. He also faces a fine of not more than $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the unlawful conduct, or both, per count.
The case is being investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Mignonne Griffing and Trial Attorney Leslie E. Lehnert of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.