Fayette County man and business sentenced for violating the Clean Water Act

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY) – A judge has sentenced a Fayette County man and his company for Clean Water Act violations.

68-year-old Michael Graves of Charlton Heights and his company, West Virginia Environmental Services (WVES), owned and managed a Fayette County industrial waste landfill.

According to court documents, from 2006 to 2020, Graves earned $9.8 million to dispose of industrial waste and treat and dispose of leachate.

Leachate is liquid from the landfill that contains toxic chemicals such as arsenic and selenium.  

The Fayette County landfill did not accept any new waste after 2008, making leachate treatment their sole responsibility. 

Court officials report that Graves failed to maintain the contaminated liquids for several years, starting in 2016, resulting in the discharge of leachate into the Jarrett Branch tributary that flows into the Kanawha River near Alloy. 

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) inspectors consistently documented the illegal discharges, leading to Graves receiving numerous violation notices. 

Graves pleaded guilty to one felony count of violating the Clean Water Act.

The court sentenced Graves to one year of house arrest as part of a five-year term of federal probation and fined $100,000. 

Additionally, a judge ordered WVES to pay a $500,000 fine and placed the company on corporate probation for three years. 

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