In September 2022, two Rankin County men were indicted in federal court for illegally dumping industrial waste in the Jackson sewer system. On October 18, an employee for a Mississippi wastewater company pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in dumping industrial waste in the Jackson city water system. On October 20, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was opening a federal civil rights investigation concerning the Jackson water crisis of August 2022.
Individuals charged for environmental crimes
The U.S.Attorney and EPA charged the two Raskin men with illegally dumping industrial waste, making false statements and conspiracy for their involvement in a scheme where their company, Gold Coast Commodities, illegally discharged waste into Jackson Sewer System. Penalties total 13 years in prison if they’re convicted of all nine counts on the indictment. A Partridge-Sibley Industrial employee has pleaded guilty to negligence for dumping millions of gallons of waste into the Jackson water system.
EPA investigating Jackson water crisis
The EPA announcement is in response to complaints filed by Jackson residents and the NAACP. This federal crimes investigation is over whether the Mississippi Department of Health and Department of Environmental Quality discriminated against the majority black population in Jackson on the basis of race for funding water infrastructure, treatment programs and activities. In August and September, residents in the city of over 150,000 were forced to go multiple days without water. Black people account for 83% of Jackson’s population.
The EPA does have the power to withhold federal funds from the state if any wrongdoing is found. The EPA, however, would not disrupt funds needed to provide Jackson with safe, drinkable water. The NAACP praised the EPA for holding the state accountable for its role in exacerbating the Jackson water crisis.