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Empey faces four charges in diesel spill

A Castle Rock man will appear in Dakota County court this month to face charges stemming from a diesel spill in the Vermillion River.

Cole Empey faces four different charges for operating an illegal scrap yard at the corner of Fourth and Willow Streets, and for the diesel spill that resulted from the operation of that scrap yard.

The spill occurred the morning of March 21, when diesel fuel from a catch basin located on the Landscape Depot property traveled to the Vermillion River through the city's sewer system. Though the property is owned by Collin Garvey, it was being used by Empey. Originally, it was supposed to have been used for metal recycling and storage, but Empey was allegedly using the property to dismantle large vehicles and pieces of equipment. The diesel from those pieces was stored in the catch basin.

Investigation at the time showed Empey was conducting the salvage work without a permit from the city of Farmington. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was called to respond to the spill, and hired an outside firm to complete the cleanup.

According to assistant Dakota County attorney Kathy Keena, Empey appeared in Dakota County court where he faced charges of operating without a license or registration; public nuisance; illegal scrap yard storage; and improper scrap yard waste management. The charges were filed by the Environmental Management Department.

Empey has pled not guilty to all charges. The case has now been set for jury trial, which will begin on Nov. 19.

The MPCA has indicated the cost of the cleanup is $14,348.54. Empey is being held responsible to pay those costs, as well.

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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