CHARLESTON — Christopher Hall, 43, of Pikeville, Kentucky, recently pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act.
According to court documents, Hall managed the town of Matewan’s Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), a facility designed to collect and remove domestic sewage sludge from wastewater and then properly treat the wastewater. After the water is treated and tested, the water can be safely discharged into the Tug Fork River. The removed sludge is to be dried and then properly disposed in a landfill designated to receive dried sewage sludge. It is a requirement of the Clean Water Act that the sludge removal process and disposal must be reported every month to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to ensure proper operation of the treatment facility. As manager of the POTW, Hall was responsible for monitoring the sludge removal and accurately reporting its monthly removal to a landfill.
On Aug. 20, 2018, Hall falsely reported in a sludge management report that five tons of sludge had been removed from the Matewan POTW, properly dried and then disposed at a permitted landfill. In fact, no sludge had been removed from the facility. Hall admitted to submitting a total of 10 false sludge management reports indicating that a total of 55 tons of sludge had been removed from the facility and disposed in the landfill from July 2017 to June 2018. Hall further admitted that he knew all 10 reports were false and that no sludge was disposed of at a landfill when he submitted the false reports.
Hall pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a sludge management report and faces a maximum possible sentence of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release and an order of restitution when he is sentenced July 22.
Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-Criminal Investigations Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the hearing. EPA Attorney Perry McDaniel and Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes are prosecuting the case.