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U.S. INDICTS DUMPERS; EPA ORDERS SAN LUIS REY RIVER CLEAN UP
Release Date: 8/24/1995
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578
(San Francisco) -- The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego today announced that a criminal indictment has been issued against The Herb Farm Inc., of Encinitas, Calif., and two of its corporate officers for dumping massive amounts of garbage into the San Luis Rey River channel in Oceanside. Simultaneously, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced that it has issued a clean up order to The Herb Farm.
The Herb Farm Inc., doing business as The Green House Fine Herbs, is a grower and marketer of fresh herbs. The company has a packing plant at 1613 Lake Driver in Encinitas, and other operations in Oceanside, including the illegal dump site at 5451 North River Road, which it leases from another owner.
The indictment alleges that between February 1993 and April 1994, the defendants illegally dumped numerous truckloads of waste, including household garbage, construction debris, and plastics, furniture, and even toilets into the San Luis Rey river. Under the federal Clean Water Act, the defendants were required to obtain a permit to ensure that any filling of the river is done in an environmentally sound manner. Instead, the defendants used the river as an illegal garbage dump.
The defendants were each charged with two counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act by knowingly discharging pollutants. The first count involved the unlawful discharge of fill material. The second count involved the direct discharge of leachate, or contaminated liquid waste, which leached from the dump into the river. If convicted of the offenses, each defendant faces jail terms of up to three years and a $250,000 fine for each offense. The corporation could receive a fine of up to $500,000 for each offense.
In a separate action, U.S. EPA ordered the corporation to submit a plan to repair the environmental damage caused by the dumping. The plan must assess conditions at the site, and provide for removal of the trash and restoration of the riverbed. U.S. EPA will oversee this work.
The case was originally investigated by the California Department of Fish and Game, which received complaints that The Green House Fine Herbs was illegally using the riverbed as a garbage dump. The San Diego County Department of Health Services and the City of Oceanside each ordered The Green House to stop the illegal discharges. Although the dumping stopped in April 1994, the dumped materials remained, and continued to pollute the river.
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