Fortuna-based Steve Wills Trucking and Logging LLC has agreed to pay a fine of nearly $72,000 for three separate tanker truck spills of raw milk, all of which took place over the past two years along Highway 20 in Lake County and one of which resulted in the death of the driver.

Now, raw milk may not spring to mind as a dangerous pollutant — its spillage nothing to cry over, you might say — but according to the nonprofit news organization Sentient Media, such spills can cause major problems, spurring bacteria growth that can kill aquatic animals and render the water undrinkable.

A message left for Steve Wills Trucking and Logging was not immediately returned Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced its consent agreement and final order on Monday. You can download the order by clicking here

And here’s Monday’s press release from the EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with the owner and operator of Steve Wills Trucking and Logging LLC to resolve claims of violations of the Clean Water Act.

Tanker trucks transporting milk from the Steve Wills facility near Fortuna, California, were involved in three separate driving incidents, all of which resulted in discharges of raw milk into waterways. One of the three incidents resulted in the death of a driver.

“Improper transport of goods can negatively impact waterways and compromise the safety of workers,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “When companies fail to manage substances that have the potential to impact waterways the local community, environment, and worker safety is put in danger.”

On January 19, 2020, a tanker truck carrying raw milk on Highway 20 near Glenhaven, CA overturned down an embankment and released raw milk into Clear Lake. On April 12, 2020, a second incident took place when a truck on Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, CA overturned down an embankment and released raw milk into Clear Lake. Finally, on December 11, 2021, a truck on Highway 20 east of Lance Road in Lake County overturned down an embankment into Grizzly Creek, a tributary of Cache Creek.

Drivers were cited for the January 19 and April 12, 2020, incidents. The third incident is still pending the results of an ongoing investigation.

Steve Wills Trucking and Logging agreed to a penalty in the amount of $71,967 to resolve claims that the company discharged to Waters of the United States without a permit, which is a violation of the Clean Water Act.

U.S. law requires the safe management of materials to protect public health, the environment, and limit the need for costly and extensive cleanups. It is unlawful to discharge pollutants into Waters of the United States, except as authorized by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued under the Clean Water Act.