Amateur drone video leads to shutdown of polluting factory

Congrats to Gary Mortimer, whose sUASNews site broke this story:

The long arm of the law has finally caught up with the operators of the Columbia Packing Company.

In January 2012 we were sent the images that exposed the level of pollution occurring. They were taken by an sUAS News reader that still wishes to remain anonymous. The story went viral and continues to receive hits nearly a year later.   I believe this is the first environmental crime to be prosecuted on the basis of UA evidence. Authorities had to act because of the attention the story was receiving.

Well done again that person for getting the shot and making a difference.

DALLAS -

A Dallas County grand jury returned several indictments on Wednesday against an Oak Cliff meat packing company accused of dumping animal blood in a creek that flows into the Trinity River.

Columbia Packing Company and its owner, Joe Ondrusek, face twelve indictments for water pollution.

If found guilty, the company could pay fines between $6,000 and $1.5 million. Ondrusek himself could get five years in prison and fined up to $100,000 for each count.

The grand jury also found evidence that the company, Joe Ondrusek and family member Donny Ondrusek tampered with physical evidence and returned six counts against them. The company could face more fines, and the Ondruseks could face up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 for each charge.

Neighbors near the plant on 11th Street had long complained about noxious fumes and other problems from the meat packers. But investigators didn’t get involved until a remote-controlled toy enthusiast happened to affix a video camera to an RC aircraft and videotape gallons of what appeared to be blood gushing down the river.

Views: 1783

Comment by Dave Wicks on December 28, 2012 at 2:55pm
Loved this story then and absolutely adore it now!! Way to go to this pilot and well done to the community for pushing this issue to the forefront.

Good publicity for Drones and a bad company gets what was coming, well played!
Comment by W. Joe Taylor on December 28, 2012 at 6:04pm
Typically this results in a consent order or administrative order to Get a company to clean up their act. Usually a waste water treatment facility would be designed, permitted, compliance verified by third party, etc. It is extreemly rare for a plant to shut down, people to go to jail, etc. Looks like a large facility. Had to have lots of employees who also knew what was going on and will need to testify. A grand jury is just the beginning of the legal prcess and environmental enforcement. This will probably take years to finish. Meanwhile the plant will sit there. The water quality ofnyhe stream will not be cleaned up. No real resolution yet. At least the damage can start to naturally attenuate since the source has been stopped.
Comment by Gary McCray on December 28, 2012 at 8:50pm

My guess is most of the legislation seeking to restrict the acquisition and release of photos such as these under the guise of rights to privacy will be funded and lobbied by Corporate Slime like these who want no one to know what they are doing.

Just like the Tobacco companies defending your Constitutional Rights by claiming Tobacco isn't addictive the new claim will be protecting your right to privacy by arresting and prosecuting the Whistle Blower.

We'll See, maybe I'm just cynical.

Do you really think they wouldn't be bending every effort to prosecute the guy who took this picture if they could.


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on December 29, 2012 at 7:56am

As proud of the story as I am and thanks Chris for putting this here. I am amazed that there was not better sensors downstream to detect that amount of blood being pumped into the river. They must measure the quality somewhere???

Comment by Alex Arevalo on December 29, 2012 at 9:35am

I had an engineering professor that worked hard to develop a laser-based sensor that could measure pollutants in the exhaust stack of a power plant. After developing, building and demonstrating its effectiveness he was shocked to find that the EPA no longer wanted it because they found out that the use of such an instrument constituted an invasion of privacy! He was so enraged by that that the decided to go to law school in order to fight such actions.

His instrument was never used.

I hope the same thing doesn't occur in this case.

Comment by Alan Jump on December 29, 2012 at 11:22am

This made it to Slashdot, too. Excellent job by the owner/operator of that UAV.

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