Susan Buckley, RN, Director, Public Health
Ira Singh, MPH, Deputy Director
Donald I. Baird, MD, Health Officer

Division of Environmental Health


Date Released: 12/16/2008
Subject: Willis and Francis Fined For Environmental Violations Press Release
Contact: Melissa Martel, Supervising Environmental Health Specialist, Environmental Health Division
Phone: (707) 445-6215

In October, 2008, Jacob Willis and John Francis signed consent agreements with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Environmental Health (DEH) in separate administrative enforcement actions initiated by DEH. Under the terms of these agreements, Respondents Willis and Francis must correct each violation, complete a full clean-up of their properties caused by leaking fuel tanks and hazardous waste mismanagement, and pay penalties of $50,000 each, plus partial DEH costs.
DEH inspectors identified numerous environmental violations associated with a cannabis growing operation on properties owned by Mr. Willis and Mr. Francis, including the following:
1. Installation and operation of unregistered aboveground storage tanks without preparing a spill prevention, control and countermeasures (SPCC) plan. Tanks at both properties released significant quantities of diesel fuel and used motor oil to the ground.
2. The collection and storage of hazardous waste in unapproved containers.
3. Improper handling and disposal of hazardous waste.
4. Failing to report to authorities the release of hazardous materials to the environment.
5. Failing to provide the necessary reports for the storage of hazardous materials.
The property owners have both contracted the services of environmental consultants. The Respondents have corrected nearly all the violations and the majority of the contaminated soil has been removed and properly disposed.
A breach of either consent order would cause the Unilateral Order to be in effect, with full penalties.
Over the past ten years, Division of Environmental Health (DEH) has become increasingly concerned with chemical releases associated with the cultivation of cannabis. Releases of diesel fuel and waste oil continue to be common at cannabis growing operations due to improper storage and handling of these chemicals which are toxic to humans, aquatic organisms and other wildlife, threaten drinking water, and can present an increased risk of uncontrolled fires.


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