In an outrageous judgment reached by Greene County, PA Judge Farley Toothman, seven years probation and an order to pay $257,316 in restitution was given to Robert Allan Shipman, a PA man who pleaded guilty to illegally dumping millions of gallons of wastewater from shale-gas drilling over several years. The judgment, according to The Wall Street Journal, was being “closely watched”, setting a terrible precedent for any one or any company that may choose to illegally dump wastewater in the future.
Toothman gave a number of absurd reasons as to why he handed down such a lax sentence to Shipman, including: Shipman’s cooperation in the investigation, the recent suicide of his stepdaughter, and past “indifference” to such crimes from prosecutors. But none of these reasons exonerate Shipman for illegally dumping MILLIONS OF GALLONS of toxic wastewater and putting the lives of untold living organisms in peril.
So if I were to illegally dump millions of gallons of toxic substances, would I also get a slap on the wrist if a close family member died or if previous prosecutors did not have the courage to take on this important issue? It’s a question worth asking since many companies who deal with wastewater will be asking the same thing, only they might actually choose to dump millions of gallons of wastewater illegally.
This man and any of his employees who engaged in this practice should have received jail time, plain and simple.
Nothing can make up for the damage that has already been done but future damages can be diverted if potential illegal dumpers know that long prison sentences and hefty fines are in store for them. Due to this ruling, these individuals can be a little more confident that illegally dumping wastewater may well be worth it after all.