Mississippi man admits he put more than 3 million gallons of industrial waste into city sewer

Published 5:41 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The owner of a Mississippi business that specialized in cleaning out sewer systems admitted in federal court to illegally dumping or helping others to dump more than 3 million gallons of untreated industrial wastewater into a city sewer system in violation of federal laws.

Andrew Walker, 70, of Jackson, Miss., pleaded guilty Wednesday in Federal District Court before Judge Kristi Haskins Johnson to having illegally discharged industrial waste into the Jackson Sewer System, announced Jean E. Williams, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Acting United States Attorney Darren J. LaMarca, Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; and Special Agent in Charge Michelle A. Sutphin with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

Walker was charged in a two-count criminal Information filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in September 2020.

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Andrew Walker, the owner of Rebel High Velocity Sewer Services of Jackson, Mississippi, (“Rebel”) admitted to having entered into a conspiracy with the generators and transporters of industrial waste illegally to discharge the waste into the Jackson Sewer System in order to avoid the expense of treating the waste to reduce pollutant concentrations, as required by law, and to evade sewer usage fees and the cost of disposing of the waste at legal off-site facilities.

According to the two counts of the Information and statements made in open court, in October, 2016, state and municipal authorities discovered that a local manufacturing company had been discharging large quantities of its industrial waste directly into the sewer serving its facility.

Government agencies ordered the company to stop this illegal dumping and to ship the waste off site for legal treatment and disposal. Yet, from November 2016 through October 2017, Mr. Walker and his co-conspirators evaded this order, arranging for the illegal disposal of this untreated industrial waste, first by misrepresenting the industrial waste to be domestic waste and dumping it at Jackson’s treatment plant, and then by discharging hundreds of truckloads of industrial waste into a city sewer pipe they excavated at Rebel.

By the time this illegal waste disposal was discovered by state officials, the defendant and his coconspirators had discharged over three million gallons of untreated industrial waste into the same Jackson sewer system to which they had already been prohibited from dumping.

“Those who disregard the health and safety of our community to pollute our natural resources and waterways for easy profit will find themselves standing before a court of law to answer for their wrongs,” said Acting U.S. Attorney LaMarca.

“The Clean Water Act is in place to not only protect the environment, but to safeguard our communities and residents from the risks of industrial waste,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin. “Circumventing the law to improperly dispose of waste in order to make a profit is a crime that the FBI and our partners take seriously. Criminal investigations into those who benefit from putting our communities’ health at risk will remain a priority for the FBI.”

Walker appeared for the change of plea hearing today before United States District Judge Kristi H. Johnson in Jackson. He remains released on conditions of bond pending a sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Walker faces maximum penalties of 5 years in prison for the count of conspiracy, and 3 years in prison for the count of discharging industrial waste. Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000.