LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) -An employee at West Cal Cam hospital has been arrested for allegedly having his subordinates dump a dangerous chemical down a storm drain.
The illegal dumping could have caused serious harm but for dry weather conditions:
On or around April 30th 59 year old Garry Lee Glass, the maintenance director for West Cal Cam hospital, allegedly ordered employees to dump a dangerous chemical called STERIS 20 into this storm drain behind the hospital maintenance building.
Bobby Kingham with the State DEQ Criminal Investigations Division says it's an extremely dangerous chemical used to sterilize medical devices. "Could have produced vapors to harm people in the area."
Kingham says DEQ received a complaint about the dumping. He says luckily, because it had been so dry, the chemical did not come in contact with any water. Otherwise, he says there could have been a dangerous reaction. The storm drain is less than 100 feet from a playground for tots. "The drain didn't have any water in it so the chemicals remained in their powdered state and weren't dissolved in any water so it was easy for a haz mat team to come out and pick it up."
It's not clear why glass allegedly ordered the dumping rather than dispose of the expired chemical properly. Kingham says it's important to DEQ that violators of illegal dumping laws be brought to justice. "These storm drains flow into our rivers and streams and it affects wildlife as we can see right now with the oil spill. We want to protect all our wildlife, all our environment as well as the people who live around."
Because the dumping was caught before it rained Kingham says all the material was able to be cleaned up and disposed of properly. If convicted, of knowingly discharging pollutants into state waters, glass could be imprisoned for up to ten years and fined up to 100-thousand dollars or both.
Glass has bonded out of jail. The results of the investigation will be presented to the Calcasieu District Attorney's office for prosecution.
And West Cal Cam released a statement this afternoon which says in part, "We have cooperated fully with the investigation and provided any information that was requested. The conduct that is alleged to have taken place violated WCCH policies and was of a limited and isolated nature."