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Dumping Sewage Gets Paradise Employee Banned From Mt. Rainier

Amy Radil

An operator at the wastewater treatment plant at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park has pleaded guilty to dumping sewage into the Nisqually River. James Barber admitted to violating the Clean Water Act Friday in federal court in Tacoma.


The Paradise lookout on Mount Rainier is famous for its majestic views and pristine wilderness. But the plea deal announced by federal prosecutors depicts a more sordid reality in August 2011. That's when James Barber has admitted to allowing about 200,000 gallons of sewage to flow into a waterfall and then into the Nisqually River.

According to case records, Barber worked as an operator of the Paradise Wastewater Treatment Plant. It provides secondary treatment of wastewater from Paradise Inn and the nearby visitor's center.

In the plea agreement, federal authorities say last summer, Barber failed to stop the buildup of solid waste at the treatment plant. The filters became clogged. Barber then used a bypass that dumped the minimally treated sewage into the river for two days. Authorities say then Barber took time off and a coworker spotted the problem.

Barber hasn't been sentenced yet, but under the terms of his plea agreement, he's already banned from entering Mount Rainier National Park for five years. He also agrees never to seek licenses or permits related to water treatment.

The charge is a misdemeanor that could mean up to a year in prison.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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