Superintendent of the Bolton, New York sewer plant Thomas A. French II was arrested following a year-long investigation by the Bureau of Environmental Crimes, says CBS. French, 37, faces criminal charges resulting from tampering with water test results at the sewer plant.
French faces up to $10,000 in fines and four years in prison, according to ABC News 10. Currently, French remains the Bolton plant’s chief operator and has been suspended with pay.
Ron Conover, supervisor, said that suspicions about the Bolton plant’s operations began in May 2017. “Our consultants that work with us on the plant upgrades raised some concerns, about a year ago, relative to the operation of the plant which I immediately reported to DEC,” Conover told ABC.
A DEC investigation revealed that French added chemicals for the purpose of modifying monthly test results so that they would demonstrate compliance with the state’s standards.
An official statement released from DEC officials says that French “was charged with four counts of falsifying business records in the second degree (a misdemeanor), four counts of offering a false instrument for filing (a class E felony), and two counts of tampering with or knowingly rendering inaccurate any monitoring device or method required (a class E felony).”
French was also accused of instructing plant employees to open the bypass valve without approval from the DEC, allowing sewage to spill into the surrounding environment. This accusation was revealed in court paperwork, according to CBS.
French was arraigned in court and released on recognizance, according to WNYT. He pled not guilty, and he will return to court on April 24, 2018.
Importantly, the Bolton town supervisor wishes to assure local residents that Bolton’s investigation and actions will in no way affect their drinking water, wildlife, or the surrounding environment, WNYT says.
However, nearby Lake George could suffer from French’s neglect, according to ABC. “That sewage effluent passes through the groundwater. If it isn’t stripped of nitrates, nitrates will promote algae growth and that’s a problem,” said Lake George supervisor Dennis Dickinson. “The algae growth degrades water quality. You put something in nature that doesn’t belong there, it can have all kinds of effects. Some immediate and apparent and some not, some are long term.”
Meanwhile, Conover assures that the plant is functioning properly.
“I’m told by our consultants, while it’s a 50-year-old plant, it’s operating very well,” he said.