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Chemical plant manager sentenced for polluting a tributary of the Chattahoochee

Carlos Conde has been sentenced for violating the Clean Water Act by instructing employees at the Apollo Industries chemical processing plant in Smyrna, Georgia, to wash carburetor fluid into a tributary of the Chattahoochee River.

“We must ensure that citizens can continue to enjoy the beautiful natural resources we have here in Georgia like the Chattahoochee,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “Protecting those resources, and the environment, is part of our mission.  We take this responsibility seriously, and we will prosecute those who have no respect for the laws that preserve them for all to use and enjoy.”

“The defendant in this case intentionally contaminated a tributary of the Chattahoochee River, killing fish and damaging the environment,” said Special Agent in Charge Andy Castro of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.  “This sentencing demonstrates that EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting our natural resources and the communities that rely upon them.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: on the evening of August 12, 2016, a batching tank at the Apollo Industries chemical mixing facility in Smyrna, Georgia, began leaking a carburetor cleaner containing naphalene, a toxic and hazardous chemical.  The following morning, two workers discovered the spill and called Carlos Conde, the plant manager.

Conde arrived at the plant and instructed the employees to wash the chemical away with water from multiple hoses.  The chemical was washed into a tributary of Nickajack Creek and the Chattahoochee River.  Conde then twice denied his role in interviews with a Special Agent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The carburetor cleaner turned the water milky white and opaque and killed the wildlife in the creek, including fish and frogs.

Carlos Conde, 37, of Smyrna, Georgia, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., to 12 months’ probation with the first four months to be served as home detention, a $2000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.  Conde was convicted on these charges on January 24, 2019, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, prosecuted the case.

This is a press release from the DOJ

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