The Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company tasked with collecting used industrial and commercial drums and reconditioning and reselling them has been indicted.
The company’s process of reconditioning the barrels involved washing the barrels in a highly-corrosive chemical solution, reported King 5. According to the 36-count indictment, the company used a hidden drain to pump the caustic wastewater directly into the King County sewer system, which could potentially reach the Duwamish Waterway and Puget Sound.
Company owner Louie Sanft and plant manager John Sanft were both named in the indictment. The two cousins allegedly lied to regulators about their operation since 2009, according to King 5. Both men were charged with criminal conspiracy and 29 counts of violating the Clean Water Act.
Both men are expected in court in January.
Environmental Investigators discovered what the Sanfts were doing after installing real-time monitoring equipment, which allowed them to determine when the dumping was taking place. Investigators executed a search warrant in Mar. 2019 after receiving an alert dumping was happening, reported King 5. They discovered the pump that was pumping solution to a nearby hidden drain that had never been disclosed and that it led directly to the sewer system.
The business blamed the issue on a former employee, fired nine months ago. The company says it didn't encourage or permit that worker's actions.
“At a time when we are searching for strategies to protect Puget Sound and improve water quality for fish and wildlife, we need companies to do their share, not scheme for ways to pollute in private,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran.