Barge Manager Sentenced For Dumping Toxic Pollutants Into Bay

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Dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste in the bay can land you in jail -- or worse
A barge manager who dumped -- and ordered his employees to dump -- perhaps millions of gallons of toxic pollutants into San Francisco Bay off the coast of Pittsburg has received a barge load of justice. Mark Guinn was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service related to the environment by a San Francisco federal court judge. That's a lot of beach cleaning.

It seems some folks just aren't getting this whole "Inconvenient Truth" thing even in a region that prides itself on being green: Guinn, a manager at Brusco Tug & Barge Company, ordered his crew dump barges of toxic or contaminated spoils from various dredging sites into the bay around Winter Island. And this was no one-time move: The violations of the Clean Water Act went on from 2003 to 2007. Cue barge loads of rage here.

According to the 2009 indictment, the privately owned island is a freshwater wetland habitat and serves as a duck hunting club. It is one of the few places in the Bay Area where it's actually deemed beneficial to dump dredged material -- on the island -- and Brusco had a contract to do so.

Yet testimony in the five-day jury trial showed that Guinn's preference for dumping the toxic sludge in the water instead was a time-saving measure: Offloading the spoils onto the island takes 12 to 18 hours. Simply dumping it into the water takes minutes.

Guinn is a 42-year-old from Longview, Wash. The company he worked for, Brusco, previously pleaded guilty to a felony Clean Water Act violation, and was hit with a $1.5 million fine, $250,000 of which was allocated to environmental projects in the Bay. Maybe once he gets out of prison, Guinn can volunteer for one of them.    

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