2 Brandon businessmen charged with dumping waste into Jackson’s sewer system

The chairman and plant manager of Gold Coast Commodities made their first appearances Thursday at the Thad Cochran Federal Courthouse in Jackson on charges of illegally dumping industrial waste into the Jackson sewer system.

Gold Coast Chairman Thomas Douglas Jr., 61, and plant manager John Welch Sr., 64, have been charged in a nine-count indictment that does not was not sealed on September 2. The charges include conspiracy and misrepresentation in addition to unlawful dumping, federal officials said in a news release.

According to the indictment, Gold Coast refined used cooking oils and other animal and agricultural fats into feed ingredients, fertilizers and other products.

Click here to read the full indictment.

Click here read Robert Douglas’ indictment.

Click here to read Andrew Walker’s indictment.

The indictments come a week after Gold Coast co-owner and vice-president Robert David Douglas, 60, of Flowood, pleaded guilty to unlawful discharge of pollutants, a violation of the Clean Water Act. He is due to be sentenced on November 9.

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It is not known if Robert Douglas is related to Thomas Douglas.

Thomas Douglas and Welch are scheduled for trial Nov. 7 in court for the Southern District of Mississippi. If convicted, the men face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and three years for each of five charges of illegal industrial waste dumping. In addition, Thomas Douglas faces an additional five years for each of the two charges and Welch for a charge of misrepresentation or involvement in a scheme to conceal material facts, for a maximum of 30 years for Douglas and 25 years for Welch.

The day after Robert Douglas pleaded guilty, Gold Coast Commodities issued a press release blaming the contractor he had hired to dispose of industrial waste.

Gold Coast officials said the Brandon-based company hired Rebel High Velocity Sewer Services to legally dispose of the company’s waste and believed the company was doing so legally because it had excellent ratings with from the Better Business Bureau and was in good standing with Mississippi. Office of the Secretary of State.

“There was no reason to believe that Rebel High Velocity improperly disposed of wastewater after it left our facility,” the company said. “Fortunately, there was no environmental impact, no damage to infrastructure, and no one was harmed by Rebel High Velocity’s illegal actions.

“It is important to stress that negligence in this case means that Gold Coast hired a contractor to properly dispose of sewage, and that contractor failed to do the job they were hired to do. account, we hired an expert to protect the environment and surrounding communities.The mistake made here was to fully believe that Rebel High Velocity followed their stated process and legally did the job they were hired to do.

The full environmental impact is not known at this time. Any pollutant is a violation of the Clean Water Act.

Rebel High Velocity owner Andrew Walker was charged in August 2020 with unlawful dumping of industrial waste and conspiracy. He pleaded guilty in January 2021 but no conviction records are on file.

Investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Attorney’s Office disagree. In Welch and Thomas Douglas’ indictment, federal officials say the company has numerous citations for similar violations, possibly dating back to 1995.

In February 1995, the company obtained a permit to discharge pretreated waste into Jackson’s sewage treatment system. In April of that year, company officials said it had not started using the system for waste disposal, but a month later inspectors from the company’s quality department Mississippi Environmental Investigating a sewage backup downstream from the Gold Coast determined that grease and grease in the sewer line was the likely cause of the sewage backups and overflows, according to the Act of charge.

The indictment lists several other examples of Gold Coast Commodities failing to properly process waste prior to disposal and other related violations in subsequent years through 2017.

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