HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Plant City man after he allegedly illegally dumped oil, causing thousands of dollars in damages to wetlands in Plant City.

The sheriff’s office, with the help of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), investigated the incident, which happened over a period of time in April on the 4000 block of Cooper Road. DEP units tested the substance and confirmed it was oil.

Deputies say the large dumping measured approximately 80 feet long and 12 feet wide. Due to the spill, fish, vegetation, and wildlife had all been affected in the immediate area.

Following their investigation, deputies within HCSO’s Environmental Enforcement Unit identified and arrested 33-year-old Omar Hernandez.

According to HCSO, it is estimated that the dumping caused more than $10,000 in damages. Based on the size of the dumping, the DEP requested an emergency clean-up and contracted Hull’s Environmental Services in Tampa to rehabilitate the area.

Hernandez now faces a felony charge of causing pollution that harms or injures human health or welfare.

“We all must do our part to take care of our environment for ourselves and the generations to come,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “This suspect acted selfishly, without thinking about how his actions would affect those around him, including innocent animals near the area of this dumping. Let this arrest be a lesson to anyone who thinks they can get away with dumping their waste in areas not meant for it: You will be caught and you will face the legal consequences for those hazardous decisions.”

Used oil can be safely disposed of at most automotive maintenance facilities or auto parts stores. It should be placed in a plastic or metal container and tightly sealed.

If you have any information about an agricultural/environmental crime or a loose animal, please call 813-247-8200.