San Diego federal prosecutors charged a Long Beach firefighter Tuesday with illegally dumping sewage underground from recreational vehicles over a four-year period near the Mexican border, officials announced this week.
The eight-count indictment alleges 46-year-old Long Beach man Kyle Vestermark, and his RV storage firm Dunes Edge Storage, illegally discharged sewage from RVs stored at the Brawley-based Dunes Edge Storage and at the Dunes Toy Storage in Holtville without a permit, between October 2011 and April 2015, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California.
Such offenses are a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, authorities said.
The charges include one count of conspiracy to illegally discharge sewage—a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine ($500,000 for a corporation); and six counts of unlawful injection of sewage that has a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“According to the indictment, Vestermark obtained a permit in 2004 for a 10,000 gallon holding tank for the 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),” the release stated. “The indictment further alleges that Vestermark also obtained a Conditional Use Permit 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.”
Vestermark was required to hire a septage firm to pump out the RV sewage from the holding tanks and discard it at a wastewater treatment plant. However, Vestermark allegedly ignored the permit’s specific prohibitions and used heavy equipment from 2005-2006 to install underground leach lines at both sites, which would permit the RV sewage to leach out underground for disposal, according to the release.
The indictment stated the leach lines were removed in 2015 after Imperial County authorities discovered Vestermark’s actions. The indictment also seeks that Vestermark forfeit about $380,000, which is what officials believe to be the alleged proceeds of the offenses.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division and Bureau of Land Management, Office of Law Enforcement were the agencies investigating the case.