It was led by EPA Special Agent Kristine Wilson, who assisted in a joint interrogation of Vice President Chuck Mundy that resulted in a confession that he falsified documents to cover up the handling of hazardous materials.
The three Santa Paula firefighters who were enveloped in the cloud have not recovered a year later and remain on medical leave.
The fire truck they drove to the site at in the morning was badly damaged in the explosion and subsequently had to be written off, after repeated attempts to decontaminate it, and despite its $500,000 cost.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, which led to a daylong evacuation and the declaration of a local emergency by Sheriff Geoff Dean, the closure of Hwy 126, and a “shelter in place” order at the county jail on Todd Road; the Ventura County District Attorney seized documents, computers and cell phones from the top executives at the company.
A federal team from the Environmental Protection Agency flew in and set to work assessing contaminants, testing crops in the Santa Paula area — $1.7 million worth was thrown out — and preparing a cleanup plan for the devastated waste-water treatment plant.
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18, 2014, an explosion, fire and mile-long plume of toxic gas badly injured three firefighters and 12 employees at the Santa Clara Waste Water site near Santa Paula.
Over 50 people, including a motorcyclist passing on Highway 126, were sent to the hospital for treatment after breathing in a cloud of black toxicity that included chlorine dioxide, a poisonous gas.
Investigator Barry stated that he went undercover, posing as a relative of one of the workers, and recorded a phone call from SCWW Human Resources Director Marlene Faltemier.
During the call Faltemier allegedly told him that the company had a “no speak” policy for all employees, which prohibited frank discussion of plant operations with authorities, regulators or police.
Despite that apparent attempt to cover up, after a nine-month investigation, Senior Deputy District Attorney Christopher Harman came to the Grand Jury in August with a case against the company, its parent firm Green Compass and SCWW’s management, including the CEO at the time of the explosion, Doug Edwards, and President Bill Mitzel.