Five former and current employees of the Panoche Water District in California have been charged by California’s attorney general on charges of illegally burying barrels of hazardous waste and using public funds for personal purchases.
The 86 drums of hazardous waste recovered by the Department of Toxic Substances Control, a group within California’s Environmental Protection Agency, included substances such as chlorine, caustic soda, iron chloride and a mixture of antifreeze, used solvents and used oil. Each barrel contained between 35 to 55 gal of substances.
Some of the drums were discovered by construction workers at a site in Fresno County, which falls under the district’s purview. When discovered, the barrels were leaking, but the resulting contamination is being remedied, according to the agency.
The five individuals are also being accused of extensive corruption by the attorney general’s office. The charges cite that, beginning in 2011, the charged individuals used more than $100,000 of the public’s money, put towards spending for personal use including slot machines, kitchen appliances and car repairs, among other things.
The Panoche Water District is responsible for distributing water to 38,000 acres of land in the western areas of Merced and Fresno counties.