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Seward men charged with discharging ‘oily substance’ in Chugach National Forest

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 3:37 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Two men from Seward have been indicted after allegedly disposing over a dozen 55-gallon drums of “an oily substance” at the Granite Creek Recreation Area inside the Chugach National Forest in 2018.

A federal grand jury indicted 56-year-old James Withrow and 66-year-old Bruce Jackson (aka Bruce Baker), the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Alaska reported on Friday. The two men are scheduled for a court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kyle F. Reardon in the U.S. District Court of Alaska on Dec. 13.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jackson and Withrow loaded 17 of the 55-gallon drums from Jackson’s property in Seward into a tractor trailer on May 31, 2018. Both men then drove to Anchorage and on June 1, the press release states that Withrow drove the tractor trailer off the Seward Highway near mile 62 where he dumped 15 of the 17 drums on U.S. Forest Service property in the Chugach National Forest.

“Withrow drove the tractor trailer down a gravel road less than a mile long. The road has ‘No Dumping’ and ‘No Public Access’ signage clearly marked on at the highway,” Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office Lisa Houghton said Friday via email.

The press release claims that the oily substance discharged from the 15 drums within the Chugach National Forest caused $80,000 in damages, and further states that Withrow made false statements concerning the disposal to a U.S. Forest Service special agent on June 7. If convicted, Withrow could face a maximum penalty of 10 years, and Jackson could face up to five years imprisonment.

The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division are investigating the case. Acting U.S. Attorney Bryan Wilson of the District of Alaska announced the indictment, and a federal district court judge will determine sentencing. Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Steve Skrocki and Charisse Arce will prosecute the case.

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