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Former owner of Orange County wastewater treatment company pleads guilty to federal environmental criminal charge

The former owner of a wastewater treatment facility in Orange County and his company each pleaded guilty today to a federal environmental criminal charge for discharging untreated industrial wastewater into the county’s sewer system.

Tim Miller, 65, of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, and his company, Klean Waters Inc., pleaded guilty to one felony count of knowingly violating a requirement of an approved pretreatment program.

According to their plea agreements, from 2013 to April 2015, Miller was the owner and president of Klean Waters, a wastewater treatment facility in Orange. Klean Waters was permitted to receive non-hazardous industrial wastewater, treat it for pollutants if needed, and then discharge the water into the Orange County Sanitation District’s (OCSD) sewer.

OCSD runs a pretreatment program that was approved under federal law and that implements and enforces the national pretreatment standards established under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Pursuant to the CWA, any violation of any requirement imposed in OCSD’s local pretreatment program is a violation of federal law.

In 2013, Miller applied for and received a permit from OCSD for Klean Waters to discharge wastewater into the sewer. Klean Waters’ permit from OCSD required defendant to, among other things, test and, if necessary, treat wastewater so that the level of pollutants in it remained below permitted levels when it was discharged to the sewer.

In April 2015, without testing the wastewater, Miller knowingly caused Klean Waters to discharge wastewater into the sewer, so that the type and concentration of pollutants in the wastewater remained unknown.

United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton scheduled an April 14 sentencing hearing, at which time Miller will face a statutory maximum sentence of three years in federal prison and Klean Waters will face a statutory maximum sentence of three years’ probation and $50,000 in fines.

The FBI and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Rosalind Wang of the Santa Ana Branch Office and James A. Santiago of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.

This article was released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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