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Men who caused 3,900 gallons of oil to spill into river ordered to pay $1.1M

The two men were also sentenced to serve one year of probation.

Two Lyon County men have been sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution after causing an oil spill in the Yellow Medicine River in 2019.

Eric Jay Weckworth-Pineda, 25, of Cottonwood, and Tanner John Sik, 21, of Ivanhoe, were sentenced in U.S. District Court Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

The two were convicted of one count each of negligent discharge of a pollutant after they pleaded guilty earlier this year.

On April 24, 2019, Weckworth-Pineda and Sik traveled to a bridge on the northwest side of Cottonwood Lake that spans a dam between the lake and a creek, which flows directly into the Yellow Medicine River. 

The pair brought guns to the bridge for some target practice. Sik used an AR-15 rifle to "fire multiple shots at a diesel fuel pipeline" that ran perpendicular to the creek, according to court documents. Weckworth-Pineda spotted Sik’s shots from the scope of his own rifle.

When the pair returned later in the day, they saw the pipeline had been ruptured and reported it to authorities. They admitted that at least one shot had struck the pipeline.

The pipeline owner, Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P., claimed the rupture caused at least 3,906 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the creek, which cost more than $1.1 million to clean up. The federal Environmental Protection Agency also pitched in around $16,000 for cleanup.

Weckworth-Pineda and Sik will be forced to pay a total of $1,138,772.06 in restitution. 

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