Fall fires parting shot

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2001


LULING – Former St. Charles Parish public works/wastewater director Steven Fall apparently decided not to go quietly, accusing his wastewater assistant director, Sammy Accardo, of parish code violations and demanding Accardo’s dismissal. Instead though, Accardo said Friday, Fall “got his hand caught in the cookie jar one too many times, and this time I caught him.” Fall’s claim came in a letter to Parish President Albert Laque, received Aug. 24 but backdated to Aug. 16 – the date of Fall’s notice of resignation. In the letter, Fall alleged that on June 25, Accardo allowed an industrial user, Intertek Testing Services, to connect to the St. Charles Parish Wastewater Collection System. Laque continued that Fall’s letter was left with Laque’s personal secretary, Carolyn Louviere, while Laque was involved in a meeting with constituents, and added that he would return with further explanation. Laque said he remained that day until 6 p.m., but Fall never returned. Laque added he has yet to speak with Fall about the letter. Accardo is reportedly quite upset about Fall’s claim, as Laque reported Accardo as having said, “I just wished the guy well, and he’s trying to get me fired!” Intertek Testing is under construction at James Business Park in St. Rose. In April, the company applied for a domestic use tie-in, but was rebuffed by Fall, who apparently suspected the company would instead dump industrial waste. Intertek tried unsuccessfully to talk with Fall but instead went to Laque, who called Accardo to investigate. After Accardo got Intertek’s pledges in writing, he approved the tie-in on the parish’s behalf. Fall was not informed. The sewer tie-in approved for Intertek, Laque said, was for domestic sewage and not linked to the disposal of any industrial wastes. In fact, the sewer connection has not yet been made and the parish has in writing a pledge from the company that no industrial waste would be discharged from them into the parish system. What is more, the letter added, the parish has access to spot-check at any time. “The company assured me nothing was out of the way,” Laque stated, and added of Fall, “I don’t know what kind of game he’s trying to play.” Accardo responded as to Fall, “This guy’s off his rocker. He’s got a problem.” Accardo added he has contacted an attorney on the matter. One motivation for the ill feeling between Fall and Accardo was suggested by Laque, who said before Fall left, certain infrastructure data on the department’s computer were copied onto disc and deleted from the system. When Accardo discovered the data was missing, he reported the absence to Laque’s office, who demanded Fall return it. Accardo said Fall reported to the office, failed to locate the information on the system and returned the next day with the discs to re-install the information. That night, Accardo added, Fall called him at home to demand to know who reported the information’s absence, threatening retaliation. Accardo told him it was himself. “His intent was malice toward me all the time,” Accardo said of Fall. Fall alleged the connection was allowed to tie in without any advanced testing to determine effluent parameters, as required by the St. Charles Parish code governing sewers and sewage disposal. Accardo responded to this: “Everything we did was in compliance with the regulations,” and pointed out the connection has not been made, as the site is still under construction. Fall’s letter to Laque further added: “Mr. Accardo relied on the goodwill of the developer to enforce the code. This is an unacceptable standard of performance and behavior for a senior level supervisor. This approval places at jeopardy the collection system from the facility to the east bank wastewater treatment facility at Destrehan, and the treatment plant itself, which was recently constructed ($18,000,000) while under an EPA administrative order for effluent violations. This also would set a precedent for other industrial users to tie into the parish sewer collection system. As you are aware, the Parish does not have a pretreatment program or the staff to enforce one.” As a matter of fact, Accardo added, a pretreatment program is not in the parish code. Fall concluded: “I feel, as the department director, that termination is the right course of action. As the hiring authority, you may terminate employment for Mr. Accardo and this is my recommendation to you.” Fall has not returned telephone messages asking for comment. Accardo commented, “One thing Steven Fall, in his asinine statement, didn’t realize is that I back up everything I do.”