Georgia authorities announced that a truck driver was sentenced to federal prison after he pled guilty to illegally dumping thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into a creek.
On December 13, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia announced that 40 year old truck driver Jaron Coleman was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after he pled guilty to a single charge of Unauthorized Discharge of Oil in the Waters of the United States. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office describes the events leading up to the illegal fuel dump:
…on April 19, 2018, Mr. Coleman admitted that he dumped approximately 3,000 gallons of fuel on the ground near a gas station in Thomasville, Georgia after he realized he had loaded the wrong product for a delivery in Pelham, Georgia. Mr. Coleman, who was working for Eco Energy, did not have any permit or authorization to discharge the diesel fuel. The diesel fuel dumped on the ground migrated into an adjacent storm water drainage system that flows directly into a creek. The unnamed creek is a tributary of Good Water Creek which flows into Oquina Creek and then into the Ochlockonee River, a traditionally navigable water of the United States, and protected by the Clean Water Act. Under the Clean Water Act, diesel fuel is considered “oil” and the amount discharged was a harmful quantity. The discharge caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to engage in a costly clean-up and caused the evacuation of Garrison Pilcher Elementary School in Thomasville, Georgia on the same day as the incident, after school officials discovered a large amount of diesel fuel had swelled in ditches around the school.
WCTV reports that the cleanup cost $1 million.
“This defendant harmed the environment, endangered children at a nearby school and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs when he selfishly dumped fuel into the waterways of the United States. Our office is committed to enforcing federal laws protecting our natural resources, especially when the health and safety of our citizens are jeopardized. As reflected in this case, the consequences for violating environmental laws can include significant prison time,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “I want to thank the EPA for their rapid response cleaning up our waterways and investigating this incident.”