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The Fountain Hills Town Prosecutor’s Office last week filed a 10-count criminal complaint against Green Arrow Environmental Services, Inc. of Mesa; company owner, Peter Marquardt, and three employees, charging each with criminal damage to a public utility and criminal polluting.

The complaint alleges that on July 9, 2018 employees of Green Arrow pumped more than 5,000 gallons of raw industrial waste into the Fountain Hills Sanitary District’s municipal sewer system. The complaint charges that this action caused a disruption of several days to the system’s operation and more than $8,000 in clean-up costs.

Assistant District Engineer Christopher Kiriluk said the Sanitary District had been experiencing “upsets of the biological treatment system at the wastewater treatment plant” several times per year for at least two years. It was believed these “upsets” were caused by illegal dumping of industrial wastes into the district’s wastewater system.

According to Kiriluk a typical “upset” consumes additional man hours, energy (aeration to metabolize the dumped material) and chemicals. He also said it can also cause a situation in which the FHSD’s Aquifer Protection Permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality can be violated if the treated effluent recycled back into the community does not meet permitted standards for treatment.

Beginning in September, 2017, Sanitary District Manager Dana Trompke directed district staff to heighten its vigilance in an effort to identify the person or persons responsible for the dumping incidents. The district’s investigation included marking manhole covers and rims with paint to tell if a manhole had been opened recently, installing motion-detecting cameras adjacent to manholes that had been disturbed, and daily inspections of pump stations, which is how the incident of July 9, 2018, was discovered, according to Kiriluk.

He said that on that morning, at around 8:30 a.m., district staff members Tim Shepard and Juan Carlos Hernandez were conducting their daily inspection at pump station 14 when they noticed a large, heavy black stream of wastewater entering the pump station wet well. They immediately noticed a different smell which was stronger and fouler than the typical odors associated with domestic wastewater.

“Measurements taken near pump station 14 showed dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas levels in the range where eye damage can occur, and where the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations,” Kiriluk said.

Shepard and Hernandez reacted quickly and immediately drove off in the direction from which the black, foul smelling industrial waste was coming. Within minutes, they arrived in front of Kern Plaza, a vacant building located at 17205 E. Shea Boulevard. There they observed two large tanker trucks and three individuals in the road. One of the men they observed was in the process of replacing a manhole cover in the street. Shepard and

Hernandez attempted to speak with the three men; however the men quickly got into their trucks and fled from the scene. Shepard and Hernandez were able to take photographs of the trucks, which were identified as being owned and operated by Green Arrow Environmental Services, Inc. from Mesa.

The incident was reported to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and a criminal investigation was opened. The investigation was directed by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Detective David Segura with the assistance of several other Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies and Special Agent Robert Driscoll of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

On July 23, 2018, a search warrant was served at the offices of Green Arrow Environmental Services, Inc., located at 8007 E. Main Street, Mesa. Law enforcement officers seized computers, documents and other evidence from Green Arrow and were able to interview the company’s owner and several employees.

When the investigation was completed, the case was submitted to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office as well as the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Those agencies reviewed the case and directed that it be submitted to the Fountain Hills Town Prosecutor’s Office for criminal prosecution.

“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,” said Fountain Hills Town Prosecutor Mark Iacovino. “Upon reviewing the case, I was extremely impressed by the diligence and hard work of the Fountain Hills Sanitary District staff, the Sheriff’s Office and particularly Detective Segura.

“When I look back over my 29 years as the Fountain Hills Town Prosecutor, I can’t think of a more important case that we have prosecuted. This type of illegal dumping poses a direct threat not only to the Sanitary District’s employees and water treatment system but also to the general public.

“These types of cases need to be prosecuted for the protection of our local businesses as well. 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 in a facility designed for that purpose. 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.”

Trompke said she is pleased the town prosecutor filed the charges.

“We want to send a strong message to septic haulers that they cannot come into this town and illegally dump their loads into the local sewer system,” Trompke said. “We urge any resident to notify the Sanitary District if you observe any commercial or suspicious vehicles tampering with manholes. The effects of an illegal dumping into the sewer are damaging to the infrastructure and costly to the treatment processes.”