Former Long Beach Firefighter Pleads Guilty to Underground Disposal in Brawley

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wastewater

SAN DIEGO — A former Long Beach firefighter pleaded guilty in federal court today to conspiring to illegally dispose of sewage underground, in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Kyle Vestermark admitted that he and the company he owned, Dunes Edge Storage, illegally discharged sewage from recreational vehicles (RVs) stored at Dunes Edge Storage in Brawley, California, as well as another location, Dunes Toy Storage in Holtville, California, without a permit from June of 2004 through April of 2015.

Vestermark acknowledged that he and his company obtained a permit in 2004 for a 10,000 gallon holding tank for RV sewage at the Dunes Edge location from the Imperial County Public Health Department, which specifically prohibited the installation of underground leach lines (an issue which Vestermark had raised during the permitting process). Vestermark further admitted that he also obtained a Conditional Use Permit 2 from the Imperial County Planning Department in 2005 from the Imperial County Planning Board for the Dunes Toy Storage location in Holtville, which also specifically prohibited the installation of underground leach lines for the disposal of the RV sewage. The permits required Vestermark to hire a septage firm to pump out the RV sewage from the holding tanks and dispose of it at a wastewater treatment plant.

In spite of the specific prohibitions, Vestermark admitted that he used heavy equipment in 2005 and 2006 to install underground leach lines at both locations which would permit the RV sewage to leach out underground for disposal. Vestermark admitted that he used heavy equipment himself to install the leach lines, and hit the water table when installing the dump station at the Dunes Edge location – meaning that the sewage would contaminate the local water supply. The leach lines were removed in 2015 after Vestermark’s actions were discovered by Imperial County authorities. Vestermark also agreed to forfeit up to $200,000, if determined by the court to be the proceeds of the offense.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major set a sentencing hearing February 17, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

DEFENDANTS:
Dune Edge Storage, LLC Incorporated: 2006 Brawley, California
Kyle Vestermark Age: 46 Long Beach, California

SUMMARY OF CHARGES:
Count 1
Conspiracy to Illegally Discharge Sewage – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 371 Maximum penalty: Five years in prison and $250,000 fine ($500,000 for a corporation)

Counts 2-8
Unlawful Injection of Sewage – Title 42, U.S.C., Section 300h-2(b)(2) Maximum Penalty – 3 years in prison and a $250,000 fine AGENCY U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Bureau of Land Management, Office of Law Enforcement