Two Lyon County men have pleaded guilty to using a diesel oil pipeline for target practice, and spilling over 3,900 gallons of fuel into the Yellow Medicine River nearly two years ago.
Eric Jay Weckworth-Pineda, age 25, and Tanner John Sik, age 21, each plead guilty to one count each of negligent discharge of a pollutant in U.S. District Court. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later time.
According to court documents, on April 24, 2019, Weckworth-Pineda and Sik went to a bridge that spans a dam between Cottonwood Lake and a creek called Judicial Ditch 24, which flows into the Yellow Medicine River. There, they fired multiple shots at a diesel pipeline running near the ditch.
The owner of the pipeline, Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., claimed the pipe’s rupture caused at least 3,906 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into Judicial Ditch 24 at a cost of approximately $1,122,617 to clean up the spill and repair the pipeline.
The Environmental Protection Agency also spent $16,154.42 in the clean-up operation.
Weckworth-Pineda and Sik each face up to one year in prison, and are liable for up to $1,138,772.06 in restitution.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General, the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lyon County Attorney’s Office.