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Principle Metals owner gets prison term

Keywords: Tags  scrap, recycler, Principle Metals, Bret Simpson, oil spill, Lisa Gordon

PITTSBURGH — The owner of a recycling operation in Washington has been jailed for causing thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the Columbia River.

Bret A. Simpson, owner of Ellensburg, Wash.-based Principle Metals LLC, has been sentenced to four months in prison, eight months of home arrest, 100 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.

Simpson has already been fined $405,000 by the state Department of Ecology after pleading guilty to two violations of the Clean Water Act in the 2010 incident (, Jan. 29).

Simpson allegedly didn’t drain the oil before illegally scrapping a derelict barge and bypassed dry docking of the vessel, instead dismantling it directly in the water. The oil was released into the water and Simpson failed to report the oil spill. The cleanup effort took 295 days and cost $22 million.

"Simpson exhibited no regard for the likelihood that his misguided salvage efforts could, and in fact did, lead to an environmental emergency that was only partially averted by a massive federal and state response," Jenny A. Durkan, U.S. Attorney in western Washington, said.

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