August 23, 2019
Two California Companies Sentenced for Hazardous Material Offenses
On August 23, 2019, Santa Clara Wastewater Company and Green Compass Environmental Solutions LLC were sentenced in the Superior Court of Ventura County, California, for environmental and hazardous material offenses related to an explosion at a Santa Paula wastewater treatment facility in November 2014. Santa Clara Wastewater Company was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to pay $2,647,621 in victim restitution, and Green Compass Environmental Solutions LLC was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to pay $185,794 in victim restitution. Both companies had entered no contest pleas on June 6, 2019.
On November 18, 2014, an explosion occurred at a wastewater treatment facility owned and operated by the two corporations. The investigation revealed that mixing and disposing of hazardous chemicals into a vacuum truck not rated to hold or transport chemicals caused the explosion. About three dozen employees and first responders were injured either by the explosion or when they inhaled toxic vapors.
A search warrant served during the investigation led to the discovery of approximately 5,500 gallons of sodium hydroxide stored in a locked shipping container. The corporations did not report these chemicals in the California Environmental Reporting System as they are legally required to do.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division and the Ventura County District Attorney.