BECKLEY, W.Va. — Mike Blankenship, 54, of Hanover, West Virginia, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for Clean Water Act violations, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. A federal jury convicted Blankenship of two felony Clean Water Act violations in April 2018. United States Attorney Mike Stuart praised the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), who were also assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the West Virginia State Police.
“No one wants crap in their creek but that’s exactly what they got in this case,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Clean water and public sewage – especially in West Virginia- is still much too hard to come by in some of our more rural communities. Blankenship operated his business with total disregard of environmental laws putting raw sewage in the very water sources our good people depend on.”
On September 29, 2015, a sewage truck owned by Blankenship was seen dumping untreated sewage into Little Huff Creek, a tributary of the Guyandotte River in Southwestern West Virginia. Inspectors with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) responded to the truck’s location in Hanover, West Virginia. They saw the sewage truck with a hose placed in the creek, observed sewage in the water and on the ground, and quickly requested the assistance of the West Virginia State Police. Returning to the truck, WVDEP agents were able to take samples from the truck and pad. Lab tests confirmed the presence of fecal coliform, an indicator of raw or untreated sewage. Later, agents with the FBI, EPA, and WVDEP spoke to Mike Blankenship. Blankenship owns a porta-john and sewage business under the name Hanover Contracting Company. Blankenship admitted that it was his sewage truck dumping sewage into the water on the day the WVDEP inspectors observed it. Blankenship also admitted to dumping sewage into Little Huff Creek on other occasions. Neighbors provided photographic evidence that they testified showed Blankenship’s trucks dumping sewage and porta-john waste into the creek on various dates in 2015 and 2016. The April 2018 federal jury also heard testimony from the law enforcement agents and experts in water quality assessment.
Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes and Special Assistant United States Attorney Perry McDaniel represented the United States at sentencing and during the jury trial. United States District Judge Irene C. Berger presided over the hearing.