BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Mike Blankenship was found guilty after a two-day jury trial.
Mike Blankenship, 54, of Hanover, West Virginia, was convicted of two felony Clean Water Act violations and faces a total sentence of up to six years of incarceration, a $500,000 fine, supervised release for three years, and a special assessment of $200 when he is sentenced on August 1, 2018 by United States District Judge Irene C. Berger.
“Environmental crimes are serious, serious matters,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “After presentation of the evidence and in front of a jury of his peers, Mr. Blankenship was convicted for a serious environmental crime. Great work by my team and by the EPA and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.”
“The defendant in this case showed reckless disregard for the environment and public health,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Working together, EPA, FBI and the State of West Virginia are sending a clear message that those who violate laws designed to protect our communities will be held responsible.”
On September 29, 2015, a sewage truck owned by Blankenship was seen dumping untreated sewage into Little Huff Creek, a tributary of the Guyandotte River in Southwestern West Virginia. Inspectors with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) responded to the truck’s location in Hanover, West Virginia. They saw the sewage truck with a hose placed in the creek, observed sewage in the water and on the ground, and quickly requested the assistance of the West Virginia State Police. Returning to the truck, WVDEP agents were able to take samples from the truck and pad. Lab tests confirmed the presence of fecal coliform, an indicator of raw or untreated sewage. Later, agents with the FBI, EPA, and WVDEP spoke to Blankenship. Blankenship owns a porta-john and sewage business under the name Hanover Contracting Company. Blankenship admitted that it was his sewage truck dumping sewage into the water on the day the WVDEP inspectors observed it. Blankenship also admitted to dumping sewage into Little Huff Creek on other occasions. Neighbors provided photographic evidence that they testified showed Blankenship’s trucks dumping sewage and porta-john waste into the creek on various dates in 2015 and 2016. The jury also heard testimony from the law enforcement agents and experts in water quality assessment.