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Castle Rock man faces charges over diesel spill in Vermillion River

A Castle Rock man will appear in Dakota County court this month to face charges stemming from a diesel spill in the Vermillion River.

Cole Empey faces four different charges for operating an illegal scrap yard at the corner of Fourth and Willow Streets, and for the diesel spill that resulted from the operation of that scrap yard.

The spill occurred the morning of March 21, when diesel fuel from a catch basin located on the Landscape Depot property traveled to the Vermillion River through the city's sewer system. Though the property is owned by Collin Garvey, it was being used by Empey. Originally, it was supposed to have been used for metal recycling and storage, but Empey was allegedly using the property to dismantle large vehicles and pieces of equipment. The diesel from those pieces was stored in the catch basin.

Investigation at the time showed Empey was conducting the salvage work without a permit from the city of Farmington. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was called to respond to the spill, and hired an outside firm to complete the cleanup.

According to assistant Dakota County attorney Kathy Keena, Empey appeared in Dakota County court where he faced charges of operating without a license or registration; public nuisance; illegal scrap yard storage; and improper scrap yard waste management. The charges were filed by the Environmental Management Department.

Empey has pled not guilty to all charges. The case has now been set for jury trial, which will begin on Nov. 19.

The MPCA has indicated the cost of the cleanup is $14,348.54. Empey is being held responsible to pay those costs, as well.