A Shelby County resident has pleaded guilty to illegally dumping machine oil into a creek that flows into the Salt River. 

A zinc plating facility hired John Affourtit of Shelbyville in 2017 to dispose of oil waste. 

Affourtit pumped the waste from machinery pits into a 500-gallon water trailer he rented. Rather than properly disposing of the waste, he then dumped the oil into a creek on his property in Shelbyville, according to a plea agreement. 

The creek flows into the Salt River, which is protected under the Clean Water Act, making it a federal crime. 

“The defendant’s willful disregard of the Clean Water Act put nearby residents and the environment at unnecessary risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal investigation division in Atlanta.

It wasn’t the only time he had illegally dumped pollution. He had also disposed of other waste, including hazardous waste, from the zinc plating facility on the same property. 

Affourtit’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for February.  He faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 dollars.

“Dangerous choices like this have consequences and the defendant must now face those.  We appreciate the dedicated work of our law enforcement partners, whose efforts make this prosecution possible,” said Carlton S. Shier, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.