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Health, Science & Environment

Concrete Company Charged With Polluting

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Two cement-company partners and their businesses are accused of illegally dumping building waste in wetlands near the Jordan River.

Federal, state and local officials worked together investigating what they allege was a practice of dumping by a Bluffdale company called Owell Precast. Business partners Bill Ashton and Brent Baker, and the associated company L&B Resources, face two charges apiece.

“This was observed on several occasions,” says Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who filed the charges Thursday. “A notice to stop was given to them. We had the materials tested. Their pH level was 10.5 – certainly higher than normal.”

Gill says the defendants didn’t have permits when they junked concrete chunks, concrete mix and other wastes into wetlands near the Jordan Narrows. He says investigators found evidence of an ongoing threat to the surrounding environment.

“When you’re talking about environmental degradation,” Gill says, “environmental concerns, these are assets that ultimately belong to us collectively as a community and the damage that’s done to them is not easily repairable.”

In a telephone conversation on Friday, Bill Ashton told KUER that the charges were unexpected and his company had been working with environmental officials. He said: “We were totally blindsided by this.”

The third degree felonies under the Utah Water Quality Act are punishable by up to five years apiece and carry fines of up to $50,000 per violation, per day.

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