JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Jackson business owner pled guilty on Wednesday in Federal District Court to having illegally discharged industrial waste into the Jackson Sewer System. Andrew Walker, 70, was charged in a two count criminal Information filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in September 2020.
Prosecutors said 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, prosecutors said Walker and his coconspirators 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 Darren LaMarca.
Walker appeared for the change of plea hearing today before United States District Judge Kristi H. Johnson in Jackson. She remains released on conditions of bond pending a sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. Walker faces maximum penalties of five years in prison for the count of conspiracy, and three years in prison for the count of discharging industrial waste. Each count also can merit a fine of up to $250,000.