Attorney General Becerra: Waste Water Company to Pay More Than $2.7 Million in Restitution to Victims Harmed in 2014 Santa Paula Facility Explosion
VENTURA - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten announced a plea resolution by the Santa Clara Waste Water Company and its parent company Green Compass Environmental Solutions LLC regarding their role in the 2014 explosion at their facility in Santa Paula, California. As a result of the plea agreement, the defendants will pay $2,797,621 in restitution to the victims of the explosion. This is in addition to $800,000 of restitution previously paid by other convicted co-defendants, for a total amount of court-ordered victim restitution of $3,597,621 in this case.
“The Santa Clara Waste Water Company's handling of hazardous waste was egregiously irresponsible and caused severe harm to workers and first responders in Santa Paula,” said Attorney General Becerra. “I want to thank District Attorney Greg Totten and his team for their tireless efforts to bring justice and closure to the victims and the community of Santa Paula.”
“One of our primary objectives in this case has always been securing actual restitution for the victims and their families affected by the 2014 explosion and chemical fire in Santa Paula,” said District Attorney Totten. “So, I am pleased with the corporate defendants’ decision to finally take responsibility for their roles in the explosion, and then failing to report hazardous materials in 2015, as well as their commitment to ensuring the victims and first responders are made whole.”
On November 18, 2014, the explosion disbursed toxic chemical residue and caused serious injury to employees and first responders. In August 2015, a Ventura County grand jury indicted nine individuals and two corporate entities on multiple criminal counts including conspiracy to dispose of hazardous waste, failure to warn of a serious concealed danger, handling hazardous waste with a reckless disregard for human life, withholding information regarding a substantial danger to public safety, filing a false or forged document, and dissuading a witness. In addition to the two corporate defendants that entered pleas today, eight of the nine charged individual defendants have been convicted pursuant to pleas, with a single remaining defendant awaiting trial. With respect to that defendant, the charges are allegations only and the defendant is presumed innocent.
The plea agreement is the result of a joint prosecution by the California Department of Justice’s Fraud and Special Prosecution Section and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.