- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - The former manager of a Willapa Bay oyster plant has been sentenced to a year of probation after admitting that for 12 years he falsified pollution data.

Lonny Howard was the general manager of Wiegardt Brothers from 2002 to 2014. During that time the company was supposed to perform monthly tests of wastewater at the point where it discharged into the bay, but instead, he took samples from a diluted source. That caused the tests to understate the amount of fecal coliform in the wastewater - and Howard sometimes doctored those results as well if they came back too high.

The company and its president guilty in 2015 to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act in June 2015. It agreed to a $100,000 fine, a $75,000 community service payment and an EPA-approved environmental management system.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said in a news release Friday that Howard’s actions could have endangered people who use Willapa Bay, especially the young, elderly or those with compromised immune systems who are susceptible to the bacteria.

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