As discussed in a number of recent posts here on this journalist’s site, a commercial waste water plant founded by oil companies outside of Santa Paula suffered a massive explosion and fire last November. This led to a cloud of toxic chlorine gas drifting over the county, which sent dozens of people to the hospital, some of whom have not fully recovered and may never full recover. Subsequently a nine month investigation by Ventura County District Attorney’s office led to presentation before a Grand Jury, which in August came back with a 71-count indictment. That indictment with supporting evidence was released on August 19th.
It’s shocking. Criminality seems to be part of the company modus operandi. For example:
“SCWWC corporate managers advertised job openings on Craigslist and routinely hired employees with extensive criminal backgrounds including people arrested and/or convicted of rape, forgery, theft, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, robbery, drug possession, drug use, battery on a peace officer/emergency worker, child annoyance, vandalism conspiracy, parole violations, and gang crimes.”
So says the first 300 pages of evidence released by the judge:
For example, the records say that truck driver Nick Arbuckle, who was seriously injured in the explosion of the tanker truck he had been driving at 3:30 a.m. on November 18th of last year had “his commerical and hazardous materials driver’s license suspended and he had an active felony warrant out of Los Angeles County for possession of a controlled substance and driving while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.”
A former employee of the plant, Evelyn Godinez, who had been laid off in February of 2015, said that the human resources department head Marlene Faltemier misled and lied to investigators, offered no safety training to employees whatsoever and added:
“Godinez admitted that many of the employees hired by the company had been arrested before. She thought the company did this because they would agree to earn less money and needed work. She said Faltemier was one of her friends and she had a drug problem before and had been arrested.”
Here’s the booking photo of Faltemier, the former General Manager, and Human Resources executive.
She faces 19 felony counts, for crimes such as causing great bodily injury by emitting an air contaminant.