Huge Payout in Water Waste Site Explosion

Source: Ivan Kmit - 123RF

Ventura, CA – 4-and-a-half years after an explosion rocked a wastewater facility near Santa Paula, injuring first responders and employees, Santa Clara Waste Water Co. and parent company Green Compass Environmental Solutions are expected to pay nearly $2.8 million in restitution.

According to a report in the Ventura County Star, the incident left employees and first responders, many of them firefighters, with serious injuries that affected their ability to continue working.

A vacuum truck exploded about 3:45 a.m. Nov. 18, 2014, when sodium chlorite reacted with other chemicals after it was sucked up into the truck’s tank. The sodium chlorite on the ground dried and ignited in the blast and was inhaled by those at the scene.

Numerous first responders and employees were injured, and 18 of them were named in the litigation. 

A grand jury indicted the two corporations and several employees in connection with the explosion. Nearly all of the employees have taken plea agreements with prosecutors for their roles in the blast. 

Investigators found a chemical on site called Petromax that had not been disclosed to state regulators as required under the law. 

Charges also included;

  • Impeding an environmental enforcement official;
  • Failure to update the hazardous materials business plan;
  • Failure to update the hazardous materials inventory; and
  • Submission of false records or statements to the California Environmental Reporting System.

District Attorney, Dominic Kardum said the corporations have already paid about $800,000 in restitution, but should the full payments be made, restitution will total $3,597,621.

A judge is expected to order the nearly $2.8 million in restitution at the sentencing hearing in August.