Businessman is sentenced for role in fish kill incident

July 02, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A man who owned a blueprint business in Shepherdstown, W.Va., will be required to pay $9,000 in fines and perform 20 hours of community service as the result of an incident in August 2001 in which 72 bottles of ammonium hydroxide were dumped into a Shepherdstown stream, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

John G. Shaw was indicted on a charge of "knowingly and willfully allowing industrial or other wastes to flow into the waters of this state," according to Jefferson County Circuit Court records.

On May 22, Shaw entered a plea of no contest to the charge, said Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gina Groh.


Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. accepted Shaw's plea Tuesday, Groh said.

Under the plea agreement, Shaw was placed on probation for one year, Groh said.

Shaw will be required to perform 20 hours of community service through the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Department, pay a $3,000 criminal fine and pay a $6,000 civil penalty, Groh said.

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 Aug. 30, 2001, after receiving complaints about stream pollution and a fish kill, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Mills said he spoke to Shaw, who said he had 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.

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 said.

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

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