OLYMPIA - State Attorney General Christine Gregoire today filed criminal charges against two men for violating state water pollution and sewage laws at the city of Ridgefield's wastewater treatment plant.
"These crimes endanger both human health and the environment, and clearly warrant criminal charges as well as civil sanctions," Gregoire said.
Former Ridgefield Public Works Director Paul Snoey and wastewater treatment plant employee James Strickler were each charged with violating the Washington Water Pollution Control Act for allowing the release of partially treated wastewater into Lake River between Jan. 1, 1999 and Sept. 9, 2001.
Both men are also charged with violating the Municipal Sewage Sludge-Biosolids Act for allowing improper treatment of human sewage sludge at the plant between Jan. 1, 1999 and Sept. 4, 2001.
In addition, Snoey is charged with making a false report for falsifying samples, sample results and records in reports submitted to state regulators.
All charges are gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 on the pollution charges and up to $5,000 on the false reporting charge.
The charges stem from an investigation by the Washington State Department of Ecology that showed monitoring records at the plant had been knowingly falsified. As a result, there is no assurance that the plant's wastewater discharge to Lake River was properly treated for as long as 20 years, threatening human health and the environment.
The Department of Ecology fined the city of Ridgefield $30,000 and turned the case over to the Attorney General's Office for criminal charges in May.
Clark County has assumed operation of the wastewater treatment plant.