Mississippi company pleads guilty to federal illegal dumping

January 11, 2023 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi wastewater hauling business has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally discharging industrial waste into the sewer system in the state’s capital city, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca said that Partridge-Sibley Industrial Services, Inc., a Jackson-based company, admitted to overseeing the disposal of industrial waste in Jackson from a client based in a nearby city.

The company allowed for pollutant-filled waste to be illegally discharged into the Jackson Wastewater Treatment System, which consists of three wastewater treatment facilities and a sewer system that serves Jackson and some surrounding areas.

“PSI’s negligent conduct contributed to the discharge of millions of gallons of untreated industrial waste into the Jackson water system,” said Chuck Carfagno, a special agent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement division. “EPA and its law enforcement partners will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who deliberately violate our nation’s environmental laws.”

Jackson’s water and sewer system has been beset by troubles dating back years. The water system has broken down repeatedly, which has at times forced people in the city of 150,000 to go days without running water.

PSI transported truckloads of industrial waste from Gold Coast Commodities, Inc. to a tank owned by a sewer service company in Jackson. The waste unloaded into that tank was later dumped in the city’s sewer system, according to court records.

Gold Coast Commodities primarily manufactures and sells acidulated bean oils. It also purchases and collects used cooking oil from restaurants and food processing establishments that is then refined into “used cooking oil,” according to the company’s website.

PSI agreed to pay the maximum fine of $200,000. The company will also be subject to one year of probation, prosecutors said.

Attorneys for PSI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In October, an employee of the company pleaded guilty for his part in the illegal dumping. He was sentenced in December to one year of probation.

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Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.