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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 29, 2015

Remsen Man Pleads Guilty To Violations Of Clean Water Act

Contact: Steve Young

A man who was employed by a pork processing plant and oversaw the facility’s wastewater treatment lagoons pled guilty on December 16, 2014, in federal court in Sioux City to knowingly discharging a pollutant thereby resulting in a fish kill.

Michael J. Wolf, age, 57 from Remsen, Iowa, was convicted of one count of discharging pollutant in a water of the United States.

At the plea hearing, Wolf admitted in or about August, 2012, Sioux-Preme Packing Corporation contracted with a company to remove and replace debris from the SPC wastewater treatment lagoons, and that beginning on October 23, 2012 and continuing to October 24, 2012, he discharged the contents of the treatment lagoons (which included pollutants such as biological material and agricultural waste) through a valve, pipe and pump building into a tributary of the West Branch of the Floyd River. Wolf admitted that between October 23 and 24th, 2012, he intentionally and unlawfully discharged approximately 845,000 gallons of untested wastewater and pollutant into the tributary over an 11.5 hour period.

On October 27, 2012, the IDNR Spencer Field Office received reports of cloudy water and stressed fish downstream of the SPC facility and began investigating. Two days later, IDNR investigators observed dead fish and discolored water downstream of the SPC facility.

On November 2, 2012, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau finished conducting their fish kill assessment.  Based on observations by fisheries staff from the confluence of the unnamed tributary and West Branch of the Floyd River, and extending downstream 11.13 miles, fish of various species were killed and more were otherwise negatively affected by the criminal discharge. .

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Donald E. O’Brien will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Wolf remains free on bond previously set pending sentencing.  Wolf faces up to three years’ imprisonment, a fine of not less than $5,000 up to $50,000 per day of violation, $100 in special assessment, and up to one year of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.  

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is 14-4091.

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Updated February 19, 2015