The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the St. Tammany Parish, La., government received a...
A former subcontractor was charged with nine criminal counts concerning discharges from the town of New Harmony’s wastewater treatment facility, according to an article in the Evansville Courier Press.
Emil Michael Stucki of Evansville is accused of filing or making false statements to environmental officials. He faces three felony counts of violating Indiana Department of Environmental Management rules as well as six misdemeanor counts of false reporting.
Stucki has been ordered by Judge James M. Redwine to appear at a hearing at 1 p.m. on March 13. However, no trial date is set.
Stucki was hired to test and report discharges from the wastewater treatment facility to IDEM. Those tests "basically test for the amount of bacteria in the water and suspended solids, amongst a whole lot of other things," Rodney Stockment, New Harmony Town Council member said.
The town’s wastewater treatment facility discharges into the Wabash River, said Stockment. He said the amount of pollutants in the discharges allegedly reported to IDEM by Stucki were "significantly" less than should have been reported.
Posey County Prosecutor Trent VanHaaften said Stucki faces six months to three years in prison if found guilty of each felony count, with the presumptive term being 13 years. The misdemeanor counts each carry terms of up to six months in jail.
According to court documents filed by David H. Eiler, investigator for IDEM, Stucki’s alleged offenses occurred from April 12 through June 19.
Stockment said Stucki worked for the town for three years, and he collected data to help plan the town’s $750,000 wastewater treatment improvements.
The charges against Stucki do not allege any violations prior to those cited in 2000. Workers completed the construction on the plant in December.
"Basically, we spent three-quarters of a million dollars and we have very little to show for it," Stockment added. "A lot of people look at three-quarters of a million dollars (as not being very much money), but we’ve got 525 customers, and when you start doing the division, you’re talking about a significant problem."
Stockment said New Harmony passed a moratorium last spring, not allowing any new sewer tap-ins as a result of the plant’s woes. That moratorium keeps the town from growing, he said.
Stucki, as well as his attorney, Beth McFadin Higgins, declined comment.