FRANKFORT, Ky. – A Shelbyville, Kentucky, man, John Affourtit, 65, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, before U.S. District Judge Gregory VanTatenhove, to knowingly discharging a harmful quantity of oil into a waterway of the United States.
According to his plea agreement, beginning in March 2017, Affourtit signed an agreement with a company to remove and dispose of the waste material at the company’s abandoned zinc plating facility. In completing the contract, Affourtit admitted to pumping oil waste from the machinery pits into a large 500-gallon water trailer that he had rented. He then took the trailer to his residential property in Shelby County where he discharged it, and it went into a creek that ran through his property. The creek is a perennial stream that flows into waters that are part of the Salt River, a traditional navigable waterway. Affourtit had also disposed of other waste materials, including a container of hazardous waste, from the zinc plating facility on his property in an earthen berm.
Affourtit was indicted in August 2020.
“After agreeing to properly dispose of hazardous materials, the defendant instead chose to endanger the environment and the people that live nearby,” said Carlton S. Shier, IV, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Dangerous choices like this have consequences and the defendant must now face those. We appreciate the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners, whose efforts make this prosecution possible.
“The defendant’s willful disregard of the Clean Water Act put nearby residents and the environment at unnecessary risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Atlanta. “EPA will continue to hold accountable those that choose to deliberately violate our environmental laws.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Shier; Special Agent in Charge Carfagno; and Anthony R. Hatton, Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, jointly announced the guilty plea.
The investigation was conducted by EPA-CID and Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Greenfield.
Affourtit is scheduled to be sentenced on February 17, 2022 at 3:30 p.m. He faces a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of not more than $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the Court, after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal sentencing statutes.
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