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A federal grand jury has indicted two Seward men on charges of disposing fifteen 55-gallon drums of an oily substance at the Granite Creek Recreation Area of Chugach National Forest and causing the drums to leak. James Withrow, 56, and Bruce Jackson, also known as Bruce Baker, 66, reportedly loaded the drums onto a tractor trailer on Jackson’s property in Seward and drove them to Anchorage on May 31, 2018. The following day, Withrow drove the trailer down a road marked “No Dumping” and “No Public Access” off mile 62 of the Seward Highway. He then proceeded to dump fifteen of the seventeen drums onto US Forest Service property, causing $80,000 in ground contamination damages, according to a US Department of Justice report.

Six days later, on June 7, Withrow supplied false statements regarding the disposal of the drums to a US Forest Service Special Agent. An investigation is ongoing in partnership between the US Forest Service and the US Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.

The defendants are scheduled to appear before the US District Court of Alaska on Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m. If convicted, Withrow could face up to ten years in prison and Jackson could potentially face a sentence of five years, subject to consideration of US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.