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Man Sentenced for Dumping Toxic Chemicals

April 24, 2001

A metal-plating shop owner was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison for illegally dumping cyanide, nickel and other corrosive chemicals into San Luis Obispo sewer lines, the U.S. attorney's office said.

U.S. District Judge William J. Rea in Los Angeles issued the sentence three months after finding Edward Fixen, 60, guilty of seven felony counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Fixen had a permit to discharge some waste water from his electroplating shop. But Rea determined that the shop owner exceeded the allowable levels for cyanide and other substances between 1995 and 1997. Such discharges pose a risk to human health as well as the environment.

City inspectors detected the discharges by placing sampling equipment sporadically in the sewer line in front of Fixen's shop. He tried to avoid detection by poking a metal rod through a manhole cover to determine when the monitoring device was in place, according to testimony at his trial.

"He wasn't always successful," said Assistant U.S. Atty. William W. Carter. "The city inspectors caught him."

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