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Grand jury indicts man on dumping charges

January 24, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County grand jury on Wednesday indicted a Shepherdstown, W.Va., man in an August 2001 incident in which 72 bottles of ammonium hydroxide were dumped into a Shepherdstown stream, according to court records.

John G. Shaw, 54, was charged in the indictment with "knowingly and willfully allowing industrial or other wastes to flow into the waters of this state."

Shaw owned Mountaineer Enterprises in downtown Shepherdstown, which used ammonium hydroxide to make blueprints, court records said.

Rhoderick Mills, an inspector with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said he responded to Shepherdstown on Aug. 30, 2001, after receiving complaints about stream pollution and a fish kill, according to Jefferson County Magistrate records.

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Mills said he spoke to Shaw, who said he directed his son to dump the ammonium hydroxide into Town Run, a stream that meanders through Shepherdstown and empties into the Potomac River about a half-mile away, according to a criminal complaint filed in magistrate court.

Fish in Town Run turned up dead when the chemicals were dumped, said police and state environmental officials.

Mills said Shaw told him that ammonia is natural in the environment, and therefore believed he was doing no harm, according to a criminal complaint.

Shaw told Mills that 72 gallon bottles, each about two-thirds full, were dumped into Town Run, the criminal complaint alleged.

Although Mills said at the time it was unclear how many fish were killed, it appeared about four or five different species of fish died, including rainbow trout and tiger muskie.

A conviction on the charge carries a punishment of one to three years in a correctional facility and a fine not greater than $50,000 for each day of the violation, Mills said Wednesday.

Mills said he believes Shaw, who is free on bond, has since moved his business to Maryland.

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