Category Archives: Environmental Cases

On April 21, 2023, the Ventura County District Attorney and Silver Bay Seafoods entered a stipulated Final Judgment resolving a civil prosecution relating to the company’s 2021 and 2022 releases of stick water. Stick water is squid ink wastewater which is lethal to fish and marine life due to its high concentration of ammonia. Under the terms of the settlement, Silver Bay Seafoods agreed to pay $36,815, which included $12,500 in penalties to the Ventura County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund, $12,500 in penalties to the CDFW Fish and Game Preservation Fund, and $5,000 in civil penalties and $6,815 in investigative costs to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

An in-depth investigation by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife identified a large poaching and wildlife trafficking organization referred to as the “E-Bike crew.” The “E Bike crew” conspired with one another and Lizette’s Market to fraudulently reprint hunting licenses and tags for the purpose of unlawfully poaching wildlife. All seven defendants pled guilty to two or more felonies ranging between 180 and 220 days in jail, as well as a two-year probationary period.

The Ventura County District Attorney and the Santa Cruz County District Attorney were lead counsel in a civil prosecution of AT&T which led to a $5.9 million settlement for environmental violations. AT&T failed to report the location of numerous hazardous materials (batteries) with the California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) at more than 3,000 sites across the state of California.  AT&T self-reported the apparent oversight and cooperated with the statewide investigation. Ventura and Santa Cruz Counties each received more than $700,000 as a result of this settlement and the 56 other California counties and impacted regulatory agencies split the remainder of the $5.9 million.

On March 11, 2019, Simi Valley-based Simi Auto Spa & Speed Wash illegally disposed of hazardous waste into an on-site storm drain that directly connects to the Arroyo Simi waterway which turned the waterway bright green. The hazardous waste, auto detailing wax, contained the chemical sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, which is acutely toxic to aquatic life. In a stipulated Final Judgment, Sam’s KH Corp. agreed to pay $65,000 in civil penalties, $37,405 in cost reimbursement to multiple responding state and county agencies, and an injunction prohibiting the business from unlawfully disposing of chemicals into the waterway.

A multi-agency investigation revealed that Fruit Growers Supply sold restricted pesticides to non-permitted users numerous times in 2019 and 2020. These pesticides included Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs) which have been identified in more than 90 percent of tested deceased mountain lions, 88 percent of tested deceased bobcats, 85 percent of tested deceased protected Pacific fishers, and 70 percent of tested deceased northern spotted owls. In a stipulated Final Judgment, Fruit Growers Supply agreed to pay $625,000 in civil penalties, restitution, and supplemental environmental projects.

On February 8, 2019, a malfunction of fruit washing equipment at the Association’s facility triggered the release of commercial grade sodium hypochlorite into the air. Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in household bleach and is used to sterilize fruit prior to packing. Two local schools, Blanchard Elementary School and Briggs School, were required to shelter in place due to the incident.

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On June 2, 2018, the Ventura Harbor District (VHD) was notified that Albatro was listing in its slip. Upon arriving on scene, VHD observed red dye diesel in the water surrounding the sinking boat. The United States Coast Guard and the VHD immediately performed containment and cleanup efforts to control and collect the fuel spill. During the cleanup, 24 drums of hazardous waste and contaminated debris were recovered from the harbor and transported to a licensed disposal facility.

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On February 19, 2019, a Sun Air employee was filling a 3,000 gallon mobile refueler truck containing jet A-1 fuel. A refueler overfill protection device malfunctioned, resulting in a significant amount of jet fuel being released into the environment.

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On February 9, 2021, routine maintenance activities on the commercial fishing boat “El Dorado,” captained by Aliotti, caused a substantial amount of paint debris to float into the harbor and coat nearby aquatic life. Aliotti fully cooperated with the investigation and instituted remedial measures shortly thereafter to ensure a similar incident does not occur in the future.

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On April 29, 2020, DFW was notified that maintenance was occurring at the Ventura Harbor on the vessel “Islander”, operated by Island Packers. The maintenance involved sanding the deck of the boat without any containment measures in place. This resulted in substantial paint related debris floating into the harbor. Immediately after the incident, Island Packers fully cooperated with the investigation and instituted remedial measures to ensure a similar incident does not occur again in the future. This settlement is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the DFW and the District Attorney’s Office Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit.

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