DEQ makes second arrest in Vacherie illegal dumping

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009



BATON ROUGE — Just one week after the owner and operator of a Vacherie wastewater plant was arrested on 96 felony counts of environmental violations, investigators with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality announced they have also arrested the plant’s manager on 78 felony violations at the plant.

Jeffery Wayne Dabadie, 39, of Gonzales, plant manager of Armant Environmental Services LLC, is accused of allowing the routine illegal dumping of untreated wastewater, bypassing discharge into a proper treatment facility, and failing to operate and maintain a proper treatment system, said DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett.

Dabadie’s June 3 arrest follows the May 27 arrest of Charles Earnest Toth, 45, the owner of the plant, located 2141 Toth St., in Vacherie.

Mallett said Dabadie was aware of the illegal dumpings, a violation of the waste water treatment facility’s Louisiana Pollution Discharge Elimination System (LPDES) permit, and did nothing to stop or prevent it from happening. Investigators with DEQ took soil samples on the property and determined there were chemicals related to oil and petroleum products on the ground.

“Cutting corners by allowing illegal dumping of untreated wastewater will not be tolerated,” said Jeffery Nolan, DEQ criminal investigations division manager. “We will continue to protect human health and the environment by pursuing anyone found to be willfully allowing or engaging in illegal disposals and discharges.”

Mallett said Toth’s company received its LPDES permit to discharge treated wastewater from their site at 2141 Toth St. in Vacherie in July of 2007. The earliest violation was an oil release incident in September of 2007.

If convicted, Dabadie faces fines between $5,000 and $50,000 for every day that the plant was in violation of the LPDES permit, as well as the potential for up to three years of prison time for each violation.

An arrest does not constitute guilt in a criminal case. All evidence compiled during the investigation is presented to the area prosecutors who determine if formal charges are warranted.