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Press Release

Portland Man Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violation for Discharging Oil Into Willamette River

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.—A local man pleaded guilty today in federal court for violating the Clean Water Act by negligently discharging oil into the Willamette River in Portland.

Robert La Rue Webb, II, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of negligently discharging harmful quantities of oil into a water of the U.S.

According to court documents and disclosures at the hearing, on January 22, 2018, Webb, an employee of the engineering firm Mott MacDonald, was pumping oil into a 10,000-gallon used-oil tank at the Union Pacific Albina Railyard in Portland. While operating the pump, Webb walked away to make a phone call and was still distracted by his cell phone as the tank overflowed. More than 1,000 gallons of oil entered a storm water drain and were discharged into the Willamette River, resulting in a sheen and discoloration of the river’s surface.

Webb faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $25,000 per day fine and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on October 28, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.

This case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, and Will McLaren, a special assistant U.S. attorney for the district and criminal enforcement counsel for EPA Region 10.

Updated August 5, 2019