A Mesa company, its owner and three employees potentially face thousands of dollars in fines and some jail time after they were charged with dumping 5,000 gallons on raw sewage into Fountain Hills’ sewer system.
Following a lengthy investigation by the town and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Fountain Hills Prosecutor Mark Iacovino filed criminal misdemeanor charges against Green Arrow Environmental Services, Inc., owner Peter Marquardt, and employees Garrett Hawkins, 30; Clayton Holland, 29; and Christopher Scott, 28. All four men live in Mesa.
“I can’t think of a more important case that we have prosecuted,” Iacovino said, saying the allegedly illegal dumping “poses a direct threat not only to the sanitary district’s employees and water treatment system but also to the general public,” said Iacovino.
He also said the prosecution is as much a matter of protecting other businesses as it is about protecting the public and town workers from injury.
“Businesses throughout the Phoenix area pay a lot of money to companies like Green Arrow to collect their industrial or hazardous waste and dispose of it safely and properly,” Iacovino said, adding:
“I imagine that those business owners would be shocked if they learned that the companies they’ve hired are dumping that waste down the nearest manhole.”
The charges arise out of an incident July 9, 2018, when employees of Green Arrow pumped the industrial waste into a manhole, disrupting the town’s sewage system for several days, costing an $8,000 cleanup and posing physical risks to town workers.
Fountain Hills Assistant District Engineer Christopher Kiriluk said the town plant’s biological treatment system had been experiencing costly “upsets” the last couple years.
In September 2017, Sanitary District Manager Dana Trompke told his staff to take a series of measures to catch the dumpers.
Crews painted manholes and installed motion-detecting cameras near them to see if any covers were dislodged and to inspect pump stations daily.
On July 9, town staffers Tim Shepard and Juan Carlos Hernandez “noticed a large, heavy black stream of wastewater entering” one pump station and “noticed a different smell which was stronger and more foul than the typical odors associated with domestic wastewater,” Iacovino said.
Subsequent investigation found hydrogen sulfide gas levels were “in the range where eye damage can occur, and where the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations,” Kiriluk said.
Shepard and Hernandez drove to find the origin of the waste and saw two tanker trucks and three men in front of a vacant building called Kern Plaza. One of the men was replacing a manhole cover in the street.
The trio fled but the two town workers took pictures of Green Arrow’s trucks.
Sheriff’s deputies raided the company’s offices at 8007 Main St., Mesa, on July 23, 2018, and seized computers and other records.
Iacovino said he filed the charges after the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Maricopa County Attorney’s Office declined to handle the case.
“This case was submitted to my office just days before the expiration of the one-year statute of limitations, so we had to work quickly to review the case and draft a criminal complaint,” Iacovino said, praising both the town sanitation workers and the deputies for their work.
All four men were arraigned last week in Fountain Hills Municipal Court.
Each defendant, including the corporation, is charged with criminal damage to a public utility and criminal polluting.
The charges carry a maximum six-month jail term and $4,575 in fines and other penalties. In addition, the company faces as maximum $36,000 in fines and penalties. They also could be held liable for restitution in addition to those financial penalties.