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Most charges against Castle Rock man dropped in fuel spill

Castle Rock resident Cole Empey has been placed on six months of probation and fined $580 after being found guilty on public nuisance charges stemming from a March 21, 2012 diesel fuel spill in the Vermillion River.

Empey appeared in Dakota County court Nov. 19, on four counts related to the spill. The spill occurred when diesel fuel seeped from a catch basin on the Landscape Depot property into the Vermillion River though the city's sewer system. Investigation during the spill indicated Empey was using the property to dismantle vehicles and pieces of equipment, and storing the diesel in catch basins on the premises. However, Empey was conducting the work without a permit from the city of Farmington.

Three of the counts - operating without a license or registration, illegal scrap yard storage and improper scrap yard waste management - were dismissed in his November hearing. Empey represented himself in court, Dakota County attorney's office spokesperson Monica Jensen said.

However, Empey was found guilty on the public nuisance count. He was ordered to pay $500 in restitution, plus $80 in court fees, and placed on probation for the next six months. The terms of his probation, Jensen said, prohibit him from doing any type of salvage-related work, anywhere, for six months, or through May 19, 2013. Empey has also been ordered to perform 40 hours of community service as part of his sentence.

The charges were brought against Empey by the Dakota County Environmental Management Department, Jensen said. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which took the lead in cleaning up the Vermillion River and subsequently investigated the leak, has also indicated Empey will be held responsible for the $14,348.54 incurred as part of the clean-up costs. The MPCA is pursuing separate charges, Jensen said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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