Former Project Manager of El Reno WWTP Violates Clean Water Act

March 16, 2022

According to Fulton, between September 2019 and February 2020, he employed fraudulent testing and reporting procedures at the WWTP.

Kenneth Fulton, of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, was sentenced after pleading guilty to Clean Water Act violations. He is former Project Manager of El Reno WWTP.

According to the Department of Justice, the violations include knowingly falsifying, tampering with, and inaccurately reporting data. 

On March 24, 2021, Fulton was charged by Information with violating the Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of any pollutant by any person from a point source into navigable waters except in compliance with a permit issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

The city of El Reno hired Veolia to operate the El Reno WWTP in 2017, and Fulton was employed by Veolia as the Project Manager of the plant. He managed and supervised the operations at the El Reno WWTP, reported The DOJ. According to Fulton, between September 2019 and February 2020, he employed fraudulent testing and reporting procedures at the WWTP. This defied and deceived the U.S. EPA and the Oklahoma DEQ.  

Fulton collected samples of treated wastewater from near the El Reno WWTP effluent discharge point to have the wastewater analyzed for the presence of E. coli, mixing the grab sample with a bleach/water mixture and letting the mixture sit for longer than the maximum holding time. 

This resulted in the bleach killing off or significantly reducing the amount of E. coli present in the sample. He would then pour out half of the contents of the bleached and diluted wastewater, adding deionized water to neutralize the sample and hide the bleach, reported the DOJ. 

Sample contents were then transferred into an official plastic container provided by the certified laboratory and then sent to them for analysis.

U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin sentenced Fulton to 2 years of probation and a $10,000 fine, reported the DOJ.

"Cutting corners and falsifying tests potentially exposed citizens and the environment to harmful contaminants," said U.S. Attorney Troester, reported to the DOJ. "This case should remind all who may be involved in treating wastewater that disregarding the Clean Water Act and federal environmental laws can result in serious consequences. I commend the investigation by the Oklahoma Environmental Crimes Task Force, including the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma DEQ Criminal Investigation Unit, and the entire prosecution team for their work here."

The investigation was conducted by the Oklahoma Environmental Crimes Task Force, which includes the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma DEQ Criminal Investigation Unit.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown.

About the Author

Cristina Tuser

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