Wastewater utility superintendent pleads guilty

Posted: Monday, April 09, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The superintendent of Juneau's wastewater utility has pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by diluting two water samples from the Mendenhall sewage treatment plant.

Andrew Bronson admitted Friday that he diluted wastewater effluent samples with tap water before the samples were analyzed by other employees of the plant, according to federal prosecutors.

The plant's permit requires that the wastewater samples tested by the facility represent an accurate record of discharge into the Mendenhall River. All test results are reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bronson tampered with the samples on Sept. 17 and Oct. 1 of 1998.

''The Clean Water Act, together with many other environmental laws, requires that operators such as Mr. Bronson preserve the integrity of samples and accurately report all test results,'' said Dixon McClary, special agent in charge of the EPA's criminal investigation division in Seattle.

Bronson added tap water to the samples in an effort to ensure that they complied with the facilities' permit, according to Kevin Feldis of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.

A federal grand jury indicted Bronson last December. He faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $25,000 fine for each of the two offenses.

According to the indictment, Bronson received a letter from EPA in May 1998 identifying several violations of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit for the Mendenhall plant and threatening penalties. A few months later, he ''knowingly tampered with and rendered inaccurate a monitoring method ... in an effort to insure that the monitoring results reported to the EPA did not exceed the NPDES permit limits,'' the indictment said.

Part of the evidence against Bronson included film taken from a surveillance camera.

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