A treatment plant operator accused of directing 200,000 gallons of sewage into the Nisqually River pleaded guilty today and resigned his post at Mount Rainier National Park.
As part of the plea deal, 52-year-old James Barber resigned from the Park Service and agreed not to enter the park for five years.
Federal prosecutors charged him with violating the Clean Water Act, a misdemeanor, after he failed in August 2011 to stop a buildup of sewage at the plant that serves the Paradise Inn and Paradise Visitor’s Center.
The filters at the plant became clogged due to an influx of sewage. Instead of fixing the problem, Barber decided to bypass the normal treatment process and discharge the waste into a drainage ditch that flows into the Nisqually River.
He then left work for several days but did not notify co-workers of the problem or mention it in the log book.
The sewage flowed into the river for four days before it was caught. Authorities said it cost about $20,000 to clean up the sewage that hadn’t reached the river.