A massive fish kill in the Rocky River in April was caused by cyanide and is being blamed on a Strongsville business owner who allegedly dumped a barrel of the toxic chemical into a storm sewer.
Renato Montorsi, 79, and his wife Teresina, 74, of Grafton, have been indicted in connection with the incident, which killed about 30,000 fish along a 3-mile stretch, from around Bonnie Park in Strongsville through Berea and Middleburg Heights.
The couple have been charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Renato Montorsi also is accused of violating the Clean Water Act.
Montorsi owns Kennedy Mint Inc., a collectible coin business at 12102 Pearl Rd. in Strongsville, but previously conducted metal plating and printing operations at the location, the indictment says.
The East Branch of the Rocky River is near the Kennedy Mint facility and storm water from that location’s parking lot flows into the East Branch of the Rocky River, according to the indictment.
U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the charges.
According to Dettelbach, Renato Montorsi tried to dispose of a 55-gallon drum of cyanide in a municipal trash receptacle, but the garbage collectors refused to take the barrel, which was marked as a hazardous chemical.
Federal law requires special disposal of hazardous chemicals.
Instead, Dettelbach said Montorsi "figured out his own way of disposing of the chemical" -- he rolled the drum to a storm sewer, used a spike to punch a hole in the side and let it drain into the sewer.
The sewer carried the liquid poison to the Rocky River.
Teresina Montorsi allegedly participated in the cover-up by helping hide the barrel.
That area of the Rocky River is a breeding grounds for steelhead trout and smallmouth bass.
The river is also stocked each year with about 100,000 steelhead trout smolt.
The case was investigated by the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Cleveland Metroparks, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.