Gouverneur Man Pleads Guilty To Federal Pollution ChargesPosted: Updated:
A 54 year old Gouverneur man has pleaded guilty to federal charges after dumping polluted water into the Raquette River.
Michael Ward pleaded guilty Thursday to three felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act.
Ward was the former technical director in charge of environmental compliance at the APC Paper Group paper mill in Norfolk.
He admitted that, between January 2013 and September 2015, he discharged wastewater containing excessive levels of biochemical oxygen demand (“BOD”) into the Raquette River.
BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen necessary for microorganisms in the water to break down organic material. BOD levels also provide an index for measuring the effect discharged wastewater will have on the body of fresh water receiving it. In this case, the paper mill’s Clean Water Act permit restricted the amount of BOD that could be discharged through wastewater.
Ward admitted that he was responsible for monitoring, calculating, and reporting the paper mill’s compliance with its Clean Water Act permit. He also admitted that he hid and falsified data regarding the BOD levels in the mill’s wastewater discharges, thus allowing the mill to violate its Clean Water Act permit on a regular basis.
In addition, he repeatedly falsified monthly reports to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to hide the continuing Clean Water Act violations.
Ward's conduct was discovered after he was fired by APC Paper Group for unrelated reasons in the fall of 2015.
Ward faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $800,000, and a term of supervised release of up to one year.
Ward will be sentenced in federal court in Binghamton on January 26.
After Ward's June indictment on the federal charges, APC Paper said it was cooperating with the investigation.