Employees indicted in 2008 death of Middletown worker

Posted by Trina Edwards - email

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - The Butler County grand jury has returned indictments against a Middletown company and several employees related to the death of a worker in 2008.

The indictments were issued Wednesday against United Oil Recovery Services and David Weber, the company's environmental health and safety manager. He is charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, violation of wastewater permit, deviation from pre-treatment permit and criminal endangering

United Oil President David Brown and Plant Manager Jay Black are each charged with one count of criminal endangering.

The charges stem from an incident on June 21, 2008, at the Middletown facility where wastewater was being improperly treated using sodium hydrosulfide. As a result, a chemical reaction took place and lethal doses of hydrogen sulfide were released, killing United Oil employee Thomas Rogers.

The Warren County Coroner's Office concluded that the cause of Rogers' death was hydrogen sulfide poisoning.

In 2007, United Oil was issued a permit from Ohio EPA for the pre-treatment of wastewater. The permit outlined the approved treatment processes. Soon after, however, the company deviated from the terms of its permit by using sodium hydrosulfide to speed up the treatment process.

Involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide are both third-degree felonies that carry penalties of up to five years incarceration and a $10,000 fine for individuals and $15,000 for an organization. Criminal endangering is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 180 days incarceration and a $1,000 fine for an individual.

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