Ventura, California - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced that the California Department of Justice will be formally joining the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office in the ongoing prosecution of multiple individual and corporate defendants charged with environmental crimes and other specified offenses related to the November 18, 2014 explosion at the Santa Clara Waste Water Company facility located in Santa Paula, California.
The explosion disbursed toxic chemical residue and is alleged to have caused serious injuries to employees and first responders. In August 2015, a Ventura County grand jury indicted nine individuals and two corporate entities on multiple criminal counts including conspiracy to dispose of hazardous waste, failure to warn of a serious concealed danger, handling a hazardous waste with a reckless disregard for human life, withholding information regarding a substantial danger to public safety, filing a false or forged instrument, and dissuading a witness.
“The reckless handling of hazardous waste is a danger to public health and safety, and will not be tolerated in California,” said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “My office will continue to prosecute serious environmental and health violations and will work closely with the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office to hold all perpetrators accountable.”
Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten stated, “We are pleased with the Attorney General’s decision and welcome the contribution of prosecutorial resources and environmental expertise the Department of Justice will bring to this case.”
This joint prosecution effort follows a nine-month investigation by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Ventura County Environmental Health Department, and the Ventura County Fire Department. The joint prosecution will include all aspects of the case, as well as the ongoing investigation into the storage of thousands of gallons of chemicals recently discovered through execution of a search warrant at the company’s facility in Santa Paula on November 5, 2015.
Green Compass Environmental Solutions LLC, one of the corporate entities previously indicted by the Ventura County Grand Jury, has facilities in Orange County, Kern County, and conducts waste disposal services in the Bay Area, making this matter one of statewide significance.
The next court date is an arraignment on December 1, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. in Department 12 of the Ventura Superior Court.