ANCHORAGE — A Matanuska-Susitna Borough man targeted by investigators after reports of illegal septic waste dumping has been arrested on a charge of threatening an Alaska state trooper.
Kenneth Champ, 48, the owner of Champ Septic Pumping in Houston, also occupied property where authorities served a search warrant Wednesday and found evidence of a marijuana growing operation.
No charges connected to the search warrant or to waste dumping have been filed.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that Champ’s neighbor called troopers in September and told them she saw sewage from Champ’s septic pumping truck flow into a creek that crosses her property. Water from the creek eventually reaches the Little Susitna River, a salmon stream.
Neighbors also reported a stench in the area and water that changed from clear to red-brown below Champ’s property. “The smell just kind of gave it away,” said neighbor Ursula Lively.
A trooper knocked on the door of Champ’s home Sept. 26 and said he wanted to ask about possible illegal dumping. According to a trooper’s affidavit, Champ told Trooper Matthew Heieren to leave before shutting the door.
As Heieren walked away, dispatchers radioed Heieren that Champ had called 911 and threatened him. “He stated on 911 that there was a trooper on his property and he is going to shoot and has a gun in his hand,” the affidavit says. “Champ made the threat more than once on the recorded 911 line. ... Heieren shone his flashlight down the driveway towards the trailer and drew his firearm, afraid for his life.”
Within a few days, the Department of Environmental Conservation collected creek water samples downstream from Champ’s property.
“A laboratory analysis ... disclosed the fecal coliform concentration were over safe limits and were indicative of illegal sewage dumping,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court Thursday.
A DEC investigator, troopers, local police officers and a representative of the Drug Enforcement Administration searched Champ’s home and other buildings Wednesday.
According to documents filed in federal court, one outbuilding 200 feet from Champ’s mobile home housed a large-scale marijuana growing operation, including 1,700 plants, grow lights and a watering system. In Champ’s home, investigators reported finding processed marijuana, five guns and about $18,000 in cash.
Champ was arrested and charged with threatening a trooper. He remained jailed Friday at Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility in Palmer.
State prosecutors would not comment on possible dumping charges. Assistant District Attorney Clint Campion said the complexity of environmental crimes make them hard to investigate.
“We would like to make a decision sooner than three months, but that’s how long it’s taking,” Campion said.