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Man who dumped diesel near Thomas County school gets 18 months in prison

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Posted at 9:33 AM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 09:35:37-05

A truck driver who dumped thousands of gallons of diesel fuel and prompted an emergency evacuation at a Thomas County elementary school has been sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison.

Jaron Coleman, 40, of Oakville, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for one count of unauthorized discharge of oil in the waters of the United States.

Coleman admitted that he dumped approximately 3,000 gallons of fuel on the ground near the Murphy USA gas station in Thomasville after he realized he had loaded the wrong product for a delivery in Pelham, Georgia.

That same day, the spill prompted two road closures and evacuations at Garrison-Pilcher Elementary after school officials discovered that a large amount of diesel fuel had swelled in ditches around the school.

Federal officials say the discharge caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund a costly clean-up. The county also spend more than $1 million to clean up the spill.

“This defendant harmed the environment, endangered children at a nearby school and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs when he selfishly dumped fuel into the waterways of the United States. Our office is committed to enforcing federal laws protecting our natural resources, especially when the health and safety of our citizens are jeopardized. As reflected in this case, the consequences for violating environmental laws can include significant prison time,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “I want to thank the EPA for their rapid response cleaning up our waterways and investigating this incident.”

There is no parole in the federal system.