Sewage Disposal Companies Sentenced for Violations of Clean Water Act
BISMARCK – Hurley Enterprises, Inc., and Mon-Dak Water & Septic Services, LLC, pleaded guilty and were sentenced in separate cases today by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on felony charges of illegal disposal of domestic sewage, a felony violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The convictions, which were announced by the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of North Dakota, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), stem from Hurley’s and Mon-Dak’s illegal dumping of sewage sludge in northwestern North Dakota in 2011 and 2012.
In 2011 and 2012 both Hurley and Mon-Dak were engaged in the domestic sewage disposal business. They pumped and removed sewage sludge for disposal from facilities in North Dakota such as oil well drilling sites, temporary crew housing sites and portable toilets. As part of their plea agreements with the United States, both Hurley and Mon-Dak admitted that in 2011 and 2012 their employees illegally discharged this type of sewage sludge by dumping the sewage sludge in a way that did not comply with regulations under the Clean Water Act. These regulations, which require a uniform spreading of this type of sewage sludge at controlled rates in order to fertilize soils, are designed to ensure the public safety. Specifically, Hurley and Mon-Dak both admitted that their truck drivers did not attempt to uniformly spread the sewage sludge, but rather dumped the sewage waste by simply opening the tanks on their trucks and discharging the sewage directly onto the ground.
In Hurley’s case, it admitted to illegally dumping sewage on January 3, 2012, at the Sipe Ranch, in McKenzie County, N.D., near a tributary to Beicegel Creek. An affidavit of an EPA-CID agent in the case alleged that Hurley had hauled over 78 loads of sewage to the Sipe Ranch site. Additionally, Hurley also admitted to illegally dumping sewage on May 23, 2012, at Epping Brook in Williams County, N.D. That sewage was dumped into a tributary that flows into the Epping Spring Brook Dam.
In Mon-Dak’s case, it admitted to illegally dumping sewage on January 6, 2012, into a stubble field in Williams County, N.D., with such force and volume that the dumping resulted in drainage channels being cut into the ground that were about 100 yards long and 2.5 feet deep in places. An affidavit of an EPA-CID agent in the case alleged that between June 2011 and January 2012 Mon-Dak had hauled at least 178 loads of sewage to this location in Williams County, N.D.
Mon-Dak also admitted to illegally dumping sewage on July 17, 2012, on a location in Mountrail County, N.D. An affidavit of an EPA-CID agent in the case alleged that between June 2011 and January 2012 Mon-Dak had hauled at least 751 loads of sewage to this location in Mountrail County, N.D.
Judge Hovland sentenced both Hurley and Mon-Dak to pay $50,000.00 fines and $400 special assessments for their felony convictions. Additionally, both Hurley and Mon-Dak are currently subject to a Compliance Plan monitored by the North Dakota Department of Health for a two year period.
"The strong enforcement of environmental laws is essential to preserving North Dakota's natural resources for future generations," said Ignacia S. Moreno, the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Activities such as sewage disposal can be done safely, responsibly and in accordance with the law. We will vigorously prosecute those who cut corners at the expense of human health and the environment in North Dakota.”
“These historic convictions under the Clean Water Act are a first for the North Dakota United States Attorney’s Office,” said United States Attorney for North Dakota Timothy Purdon. “We are committed to using all the tools at our disposal as federal prosecutors to protect the water, air and wildlife in western North Dakota.”
“As the nation continues important energy extraction activities, exploration companies are increasing the number and size of drilling rig sites and crew camps,” said Jeffrey Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in North Dakota. “Companies must ensure that all waste connected with the drilling process is treated and disposed of safely and legally. Illegally discharged sewage can sicken or injure people, fish and wildlife. Today’s sentences show that those who try to save money by ignoring our environmental laws will be held responsible for their actions.”
These cases were investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division and the North Dakota Department of Health.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Hayden and ENRD Environmental Crimes Section Trial Attorney Christopher Costantini.