February 25, 2014
Hallstead Sanitary Service and owners charged with illegally disposing septic waste at local farm, business property
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced two Susquehanna County men have been arrested and charged with the illegal dumping and storage of sewage sludge on a farm property in Lenox Township and at their business property in Hallstead.
Attorney General Kane identified the defendants as David Alan Birtch, 52, 22878 State Route 11, Hallstead and Jennings B. Birtch III, 54, 20338 State Route 11, New Milford. Criminal charges also were filed against Hallstead Sanitary Services Inc, 22878 State Route 11, Hallstead.
According to criminal complaints, David Birtch and Jennings Birtch illegally dumped or deposited sewage sludge into an onsite manure pit at Fallon Farm in Lenox Township. DNA testing of a sample from the manure pit determined the presence of human waste.
In addition, septic waste was allegedly stored and disposed of illegally at the Hallstead business property. Agents executing a search warrant at that location on Sept. 18, 2013 encountered an underground impoundment for the illegal storage of septic waste. Agents observed seepage from the impoundment into Salt Lick Creek, which borders the Hallstead property. A sample of the creek water near the seepage indicated elevated levels of E. coli.
Agents also observed a lagoon known as "Black Lake," which was full of septic waste and also tested positive for human DNA.
David Birtch, Jennings Birtch and Hallstead Sanitary Service are charged with : two counts of unlawful conduct for illegal dumping; two counts of unlawful conduct for illegal disposal; one count of prohibition against discharge of sewage; one count of sewage discharge; one count of unlawful conduct for the illegal storage/processing/disposal of sewage; and one count of pollution of waters.
David Birtch and Jennings Birtch were preliminarily arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Jodi Cordner and released on their own recognizance.
The Office of Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section conducted a criminal investigation based on a referral by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The case will be prosecuted in Susquehanna County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Brian Coffey of the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Section.
Attorney General Kane thanked the DEP for their assistance with the investigation.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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