Business owner arrested for illegal chemical dump, City-Parish stuck with $300,000 bill
UPDATE: 68-year-old John Hardy was arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison for illegal disposal of a substance, illegal discharge into state waters, and simple criminal damage to property. He was released after posting a $2,500 bond.
BATON ROUGE - An arrest warrant has been filed for a Baton Rouge man accused of illegally dumping barrels of chemicals at his business.
In April of 2019, our cameras were there as the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality cleaned up the mess. That incident sparked a months-long investigation and cost East Baton Rouge Parish hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Pools of unknown chemicals were discovered in a parking lot off of Choctaw Drive last year.
Emergency crews worked for two days and used a vacuum truck to clear the ditch where the chemicals were illegally dumped.
"Immediately thereafter there were some elevated readings, kind of a smell of rotten eggs. It was mostly isolated on-site and the readings were low," Jeff Dauzat, Emergency Response Administrator for LDEQ, said in April last year.
An arrest warrant was filed for 68-year-old John Hardy after a thorough investigation by LDEQ.
Documents revealed that Hardy initially bought a warehouse on Choctaw Drive, which used to be an alligator tannery, right next to a building he already owned.
That warehouse contained dozens of barrels of unknown chemicals. Hardy initially tried to dispose of the barrels properly. According to DEQ, he got a quote from a certified waste management company that said it would cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 to get rid of the barrels.
Hardy reportedly responded "that's outrageous," and said that he would "figure out something else."
Then, on April 8th of 2019, witnesses reported seeing multiple people "dumping drums" on the concrete at the business. The workers used push brooms and a hose to direct the chemicals into the drainage ditch.
Employees at the business next door said they immediately noticed the smell of rotting eggs when the barrels were being dumped in the parking lot. When the manager noticed what was taking place next door he said it couldn't be ignored and immediately called authorities.
That's when work began to contain and clean up the chemicals. DEQ said that there was no immediate threat to businesses and homes nearby as a result of the illegal dumping.
"We've taken some samples and we're trying to figure out exactly what that red stuff is,” DAUZAT said in April last year.
One of those chemicals was later identified as hydrogen sulfide or H2S. H2S can cause serious health problems if someone is exposed to it for a long period of time.
The sewer line was tested after the extensive cleanup and showed no leaks in the drainage system. Officials said that means the system was not contaminated.
The overall cost for the clean up resulted in a large bill for the city-parish - $322,999.48.
The city-parish is currently working with Hardy's lawyer to recoup that money. Once arrested, he'll be charged with illegal disposal of a substance, illegal discharge into state waters, and simple criminal damage to property.
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