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Two Minnesota Men Convicted for Negligent Discharge of a Pollutant into Minnesota Waters

On March 9, 2021, Tanner J. Sik and Eric J. Weckwerth-Pineda pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to negligent discharge of a pollutant. On October 8, 2020, Sik and Weckwerth-Pineda were charged by information in the same court. The information alleged that on or about April 24, 2019, Sik and Weckwerth-Pineda took weapons to a bridge that spans a dam in Lyon County, Minnesota. The dam controls the outflow of water from Cottonwood Lake to a tributary of the Minnesota River via a creek known as Judicial Ditch 24, which is federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. From the bridge, Sik and Weckwerth-Pineda targeted, shot at, and punctured part of an oil pipeline carrying diesel fuel. Pipeline owner Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., estimated that at least 3,900 gallons of fuel spilled into Judicial Ditch 24 and the Yellow Medicine River, causing damage that cost approximately $1.1 million to clean up and repair. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) spent more than $16,000 to assist with the clean-up operation.
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with EPA and assistance from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.